By Peter Crichton

WITH the industry preoccupied by the classical swine fever crisis, arrangements for the launching of the Pig Outgoers Scheme have almost reached completion unnoticed.

This scheme allows producers to obtain EU grant aid if they agree to decommission their pig housing facilities and accept a 10-year “bar” on keeping pigs.

The aim is to reduce the capacity of the UK herd by 16%, which is equivalent to 124,000 sow places measured against the June 1998 census total of 775,000 breeding sows.

Tenders are invited from producers who ran breeding herds in June 1998, and includes those who have gone out of pigs since then.

Payment will be based on a 50% grant measured against the value of the facilities being decommissioned and the drop in the value of the holding due to the 10-year ban.

An additional 10% top-up incentive payment may also be available.

These values will be calculated on the producers behalf by a qualified valuer acting for the applicant, and must be submitted to MAFF no later than 26 January, 2001.

Once all the bids are in, provided that they meet the criteria to take out at least 16% of sow capacity, MAFF will accept those which offer them the best value for money in ascending order, i.e the cheapest per sow place.

Because of the limited time available before 26 January, MAFF sources believe that the scheme is likely to be launched at the end of this month subject to final details being agreed and EU approval.

The Outgoers Scheme is likely to be followed up early next year by the Ongoers Scheme.

This will provide help to progressive producers who are prepared to draw up a forward business plan to apply for assistance towards their borrowing costs, which may result in a 5% grant towards finance charges.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry