16 October 1998

Plea for pig marketing

PIG industry leaders are calling for a complete overhaul of the Meat and Livestock Commission. But different views on what should emerge are apparent within the sector.

The British Pig Association would like the MLCs pork and bacon promotion council to be disbanded, while the British Pig Industry Support Groups petition for a new, single body to represent the pig industry is gathering pace.

The BPAs submission to the government review stopped short of joining the BPISGs call for a new pig promotion body. And, while the BPISG wanted an end to the MLCs levy-raising powers, the BPA said that function had proved useful in the past.

But the BPA added that more control had to be handed to levy payers because the pig industry had moved away from the beef and lamb sectors and, as an unsupported industry, it was facing different problems. The BPA also criticised the MLCs lack of speed in times of financial crisis.

"We should have had massive and immediate backing for our survey of retailer buying policy and direct action when the pig industry crisis began. But we and the BPISG were left to battle on without meaningful support from the MLC," said association chief executive Grenville Welsh.

He added that he had been crushingly disappointed that the British Pork and Bacon Councils efforts did not deliver results within the timescale demanded.

In place of the BPBC, the 12 commissioners and the pig strategy council, BPA has called for a board of directors to be appointed. The MLC chairman and vice-chairman should still be appointed by the farm minister, subject to approval by the industry.

Three other directors, representing the lamb, beef and pig sectors, should be appointed after consultation with the individual industries.

Mr Welsh said that would cut bureaucracy and speed up response times.

The BPISG has yet to complete its submission to the review, but chairman Stewart Houston stressed the group wanted a single voice to represent the pig industry. Its petition now had signatures from producers farming a total of 350,000 sows, – roughly half the UKs breeding herd – he added.