22 September 2000
‘Pig crisis reveals public hypocrisy’

URGENT action is needed now to save the British pig industry, writes columnist Terence Blacker in The Independent.

Mr Blacker says compensation offered by the government to farmers affected by the swine fever crisis is “negligible” compared to cash paid during the BSE crisis.

He asks consumers to do their bit to help the British pig industry and buy only British pigmeat, preferably from independent butchers supporting local produce.

Mr Blacker says the crisis reveals “a parable of our sentimental hypocritical attitude towards animals”.

While pigs are dying from overcrowding in swine fever restriction zones, the public is more concerned with hedgehogs with broken legs and anti-foxhunting campaigns, he writes.

He says consumers have contributed to the crisis by buying cheaper imported pigmeat when the UK introduced more humane, but more expensive, regimes.

Mr Blacker describes as “bizarre” the decision to fully compensate owners of infected herds but offer reduced rates to producers suffering in restriction zones.

If the East Anglian pig industry is allowed to collapse, rural people who feel alienated by the government will have “their most paranoid worries confirmed”, he warns.