28 November 1997

Rebuilding now inevitable

FUNDAMENTAL reconstruction of Hollands pig industry is now inevitable after the devastating effects of classical swine fever and British supermarkets demands for high welfare pork.

International delegates at the official opening of VIV Europe in Utrecht were told by Dutch agricultural minister, J J van Aartsen, that the proposed 25% cut in the Dutch herd was unavoidable.

Justifying the move, Mr van Aartsen said numbers, particularly in Brabant in the south-east of the country, were too high, so increasing the chance of disease outbreaks. The announcement sparked demon-strations by Dutch farmers many of whom – though unwilling to be identified – felt the action was part of a hidden agenda which aimed to appease Hollands strong environmental lobby.

In his speech the minister also warned producers that British retailer Tescos demands for high welfare systems should be taken seriously.

He urged Dutch producers to adapt units to meet Tescos welfare requirements because the firm had proved resolute in its demands for equal production parameters for all of their suppliers.