By Peter Crichton

THERE are few opportunities for UK pig producers to focus on during the current crisis, although the recent announcement of £5 million in marketing aid for the industry was welcome news.

But despite this money, producers must look hard at their costs.

Breeder finishers can examine various fixed-price contracts that may be available and are pegged to returns of about £1/kg deadweight for pigs bred on outdoor units.

Outdoor fattening is another option worth examining, but financial advisers are quick to point out that £1/kg is only 8p above production costs and will not allow many producers currently deeply in debt to continue to support their borrowings.

As visitors to the massive Dutch Viv fair saw last week, continental interest in intensive, non-welfare-friendly systems remains high, and will continue to be the norm in much of the EU.