05 March 1999
Pig men close down Malton plant

By FWi staff

ANGRY pig producers closed a meat-cutting plant owned by Malton Bacon yesterday morning for nearly seven hours in protest against the live imports of pigs from Ireland.

About 60 farmers, many of who are members of the British Pig Industry Support Group (BPISG), gathered outside the plant at six oclock on Thursday.

The farmers claim that up to 85,000 pigs imported into Britain from Ireland last year could have carried the killer disease Aujeskeys.

Meryl Ward of the BPISG accused Max Hilliard, Malton Bacons managing director, of endangering the UK pig industry which is free of the disease.

“Max Hilliard is putting all that at risk,” she claimed.

An Aujeskeys eradication programme was carried out in the UK 10 years ago, paid for by over £90 million of producers own money.

But pigs are allowed in from Ireland on the condition that they have been vaccinated against the disease or can prove that they come from an Aujeskeys-free herd.

Following the closure of the factory, Mr Hilliard arrived on the scene to talk to the protesters.

He invited Meryl Ward and another representative into the factory for discussions, saying that he wanted to know what the picket was about.

Ms Ward accused Mr Hilliard of pursuing policies that failed to demonstrate adherence to high animal welfare standards.

“Its a great shame that Unigate [Maltons parent company] wont support its high welfare code and transports pigs such long distances,” she said

Mr Hilliard, who had just returned from holiday, declined to comment.