10 January 2000
Pig crisis threatens 50,000 jobs

by Johann Tasker

THE crisis in the pig industry could cost almost 50,000 jobs and cost the country 1.2 billion, claims a new report commissioned by pig farmers.

The report estimates that 25,000 jobs have been lost since 1998. A further 24,000 more mainly in rural areas are under immediate threat, it says.

Many of the lost jobs are directly in pig farming. But many more are from a wide range of firms which rely upon the pig industry for their own success.

Crisis in the pig sector has created direct losses of 105 million, says the report, which was commissioned by the Cotswold Pig Development Company.

Farmers have made a loss on each pig sold for the past two years, it adds. The effect on related industries has created total losses of 1.2 billion to the economy.

The report will be presented to the government this week in a last ditch attempt secure help for pig farmers from agriculture minister Nick Brown.

It was prepared by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) and the National Pig Association and aims to highlight the plight of pig producers.

“The Government must act fast if it wants this industry to survive,” said Mike Sheldon of the National Pig Association.

“The case for special industry support measures is now irresistible.

The report blames the crisis on the cost of measures designed to prevent a BSE-style disease in pigs and the collapse of markets in Russia and the Far East.

British producers are also hampered by the strength of Sterling, which makes exports difficult, and animal welfare legislation which adds to production costs.

Unlike other European farmers, British producers are banned from keeping pigs tethered in cramped stalls which makes British pigmeat more expensive.

Mick Sloyan, BPEX manager, said: “It should come as no surprise that so many jobs are being lost in a sector of such economic importance.”

Pig farmers claim that pigmeat is Britains most important red meat with 1.2 million tonnes produced in 1998 amounting to 32% of total meat production.