22 May 1998

Pig men go assurance route – but under duress

BRITISH pig producers are signing up to farm assurance – according to a recent NFUsurvey 70% of the industry belongs to an assurance scheme – but are doing so because they have to rather than want to.

They would also like to see just one national scheme rather than the regional, company, and national schemes now available.

Speaking to FW at the Pig and Poultry Fair, producers felt they could, when they shopped, do nothing but sign up to farm assurance. But in return they wanted to see better differentiation of their product so consumers could support their efforts to produce to higher standards of welfare than their European competitors.

Yorks pig producer Dave Challenger said he was signing up to FABPigs because his buyer required it.

"Farm assurance will only be good for the industry if the housewife knows our pigmeat is produced to higher welfare standards and can differentiate it from imported product which is produced to lower standards."

Because Mr Challenger also supplies pigs from his 850-sow unit to Malton Bacon Factory, he must comply with their scheme, too. "It is costing us twice over and would be far better to have just the one national scheme," he said.

Anthony Walton, also from Yorks and running 240 sows, would also like to see one national scheme. "We are becoming members of FABPigs, our buyer wants us to join." With fewer pigs, he just sends to the one outlet, but if he did supply another outlet it could well want him to sign up to its assurance scheme. "It all adds to costs . We would be better off with one universal code across the industry."

Suffolk breeder/finisher David Overton is resigned to having to sign up to farm assurance. "What I want to do is not really relevant, if I want to continue supplying pigs I must be farm assured. But pressure is coming from the end of the market I have little respect for – the Tescos of this world.

Anthony Walton…

better off with one universal code across the industry.