By Farmers Weekly staff

LESS pigmeat than expected will be included in the first tranche of EU food aid to Russia.

Brussels had earmarked 30,000t for the purpose, but most bids to supply were judged too expensive.

Awards were made for just 8000t of half-carcasses. Most came from Germany (6500t), where bids ranged from Euro1305-E1404/t (£874-£941/t). The UK failed to secure a place for 500t of forequarters at E1278/t (£856/t).

But Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission believes the full 100,000t in the programme should still be shipped by the end of July, helping to relieve EU over-supply and associated price pressure. Last year the EU was 109% self sufficient, leaving 1.5m tonnes for export.

“This is the first time the pig industry has done anything like this. It takes time to arrive at a sensible bid price and understand the system,” says Mr Sloyan.

The first trainload of beef is expected to arrive on 24 March, after bids for 20,000t of Irish and 10,000t of German boneless intervention beef were accepted. Bids ranged from E133-E170/t.

Contracts were also awarded for 280,000t of wheat from French intervention stores, and 100,000t of rye from Germany. Bids for 10,000t of skimmed milk powder were rejected.

lDutch pig farmers have won the first round in a battle to stave off an enforced cut in the national herd.

Producers were incensed when their government announced plans last April to introduce quotas to cut pig numbers by up to 25% by the end of 2000 compared with 1997 levels.

The aim was to reduce manure levels, which are causing a huge environmental problem in Holland. But farmers, dismayed by the size of the cuts and lack of compensation, took the government to court. As a result, the programme, started in September, has been suspended, putting the overall plan in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, plentiful supplies continue to overhang the market – Dutch output fell just 2-2.5% last year.