15 May 1998

Revamp means extra costs to stay in FABPigs

By Simon Wragg

PIG producers can expect a £50 rise in FABPigs annual membership costs and higher vet bills to comply with the revamped scheme announced at this weeks Pig and Poultry Fair, Stoneleigh.

According to FABPigs scheme manager, Rob Gready, the extra cost will cover additional expenses of handling new annual audits introduced to strengthen the scheme.

But FABPigs and British Pig Association chairman, John Godfrey, blamed MAFFs determination to operate full cost recovery for members bi-annual state vet service audits for pushing up the costs.

Speaking to farmers weekly before the launch, Mr Godfrey said the increased membership fee should come as no surprise. "MAFF has been funding the scheme for two years and that funding has now ended. Costs were expected to go up."

On top of the expected £50 annual membership rise – £25 for producers with less than 75 breeding sows or 400 finishing pigs – Mr Godfrey also agreed vet costs could rise with the introduction of an annual vet audit. "But it will be up to producers to negotiate charges with their own vet," he said.

On a positive note, the revamp of FABPigs acknowledges criticisms from some in the industry that it lacked detail by asking little more than the MAFF pig assurance scheme it replaced, admitted Mr Gready.

"But I do not see the new standards as a radical change to the FABPigs. It provides a better definition of those standards already being enforced on farms. In short, the changes allow auditing to be more comprehensive," he said.

Main changes to FABPIGS include:

lA new three-page self audit to be completed by each member annually and held by FABPigs.

lA new two-page veterinary annual audit (which may be combined with a quarterly vet visit).

lA four-page section on food and water including new legislation for home mill and mixers.

lA three-page section on outdoor production.

Mr Gready maintains that standards have not been hiked-up in the review which is expected to carry the scheme for the next three to five years. "The scheme has always sought to ensure best practice. But it is more comprehensive and now has a framework of standards that can be audited fully," added Mr Gready.

The scheme will be enforced from July 1 for all new members. Existing members will have six months to comply. Inspections of existing members will be made during quarterly vet visits to see that the new standards have been adopted.

The BPA and big retailers have welcomed the new scheme.