By FWi staff

EAST Anglian pig farmers hit by last years swine fever outbreak could receive the first payments from a 4.5 million government loan to the industry by the end of this month.

A contract between MAFF and the Meat and Livestock Commission finalising the details of the loan should be completed next week.

Payments to affected farmers through the Intervention Board could then begin almost immediately, according to the National Pig Association.

The money will top up payments for farmers who entered pigs into MAFFs welfare disposal slaughter scheme.

About 170,000 pigs caught up in swine-fever movement restrictions were slaughtered under the scheme.

The government only paid up to 50/pig entered, even though scheme rules permitted payments of 75/head.

Pig producers agreed to raise the extra money, about 4.5m, through a statutory levy of 20p/pig, which will be used to pay the government back.