23 June 1995

Pig men shrug off gesture

EU PLANS to release 50,000t of intervention barley on the UK market at £117.60/t have been dismissed as a "token gesture".

Chief executive of the British Pig Association, Grenville Welsh, said UK farmers should benefit from the same terms as those given to Spanish producers last week.

Earlier consignments of 250,000t of high-quality UK intervention barley was sent to Spain at £98.28/t (News, 16 June). That followed exports of German intervention wheat and rye at £93.24/t.

An EC spokesman said Spain was a special case because it suffered from drought. Intervention barley was released in the UK at a higher price reflecting local market conditions. Despite Spains high market prices, officials said the EU Commission bought UK barley into intervention at a much lower price so it did not cost the EU as much.

Mr Welsh said the 50,000t was only a small step in the right direction. UK grain prices are currently more than £130/t.

Moreover the Spanish pig herd had increased by 45% over the past seven years while the UK pig herd had contracted by nearly 10% over the same period.