23 November 2000
Pig scheme delay frustrates farmers

By Alistair Driver

PIG farmers have expressed their frustration that a 66 million restructuring scheme promised by Tony Blair for their industry has not yet materialised.

Farm industry leaders, supermarket representatives and met with ministers at a food industry forum on Thursday (23 November).

It was widely acknowledged that significant progress has been made on measures put forward for the pig industry at a Downing Street summit in March.

But eight months on, pig-farmers are still waiting for confirmation that they can apply for grants to leave the industry or restructure their business.

Mike Sheldon, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said: “This is very frustrating given the parlous financial state of the industry.”

The Ministry of Agriculture is still arguing with the European Commission over the fine details of the scheme rather than giving it the go-ahead, he said.

“I am still hopeful that agreement will be reached, but am not expecting anything to be agreed until into the New Year,” he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said its preparations had been finalised and ministers were now waiting for clearance from Brussels.