By Peter Crichton
MANY UK producers are struggling with the new requirements of Farm Assured British Pigs (FABPigs), the latest pig assurance scheme to hit the industry.
This new scheme is applying yet more pressures on UK producers without any price incentives to match. Many may find these rules impossible to comply with at a time when the industry has few resources and there seems to be no significant pricing advantage at the selling end.
Now that the UK industry has done away with stalls and tethers, many producers are waiting with baited breath to see if the retail industry is prepared to recognise all their efforts by paying more for the welfare-friendly UK product in the face of cheap imports.
With intensive systems in some EU countries cashing in on much lower production costs, many industry advisors believe that the only route to survival for the UK industry is to establish a niche for their product, rather than to try and compete head-on with their competitors.
However, with most UK producers now locked into a negative equity trap, it is difficult to see how all those with outside financial resources will survive for long into 1999 unless prices surge above current production levels.
- Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry