01 September 1998
Ulster pig farmers win compensation fight

By Philip Clarke

PIG producers in Northern Ireland have won their fight to compensation for overweight animals culled under the Governments welfare slaughter programme

The scheme was introduced last month to cut the backlog of market-ready pigs on farms. But, without any payment on offer, it proved a total washout.

Northern Ireland agriculture minister Lord Dubs has now announced a £30 a head compensation package to encourage farmers to send their heavy pigs for slaughter.

“This is a one-off scheme which has been introduced for animal welfare reasons,” he said. “We are introducing it immediately because of the severity of the welfare problems.”

The Ulster Farmers Union gave a lukewarm welcome to the changes.

“The union does not expect that this will resolve all of the pig industrys problems,” said Will Taylor, UFU president. “But removing the surplus of pigs which exists is another means of easing some of the difficulties.”

Up to 20,000 excess pigs are believed to be held on farms in Northern Ireland, weighing down on an already depressed market and leading to increasing welfare problems.

The scheme is will close next Tuesday (8 September), with payment limited to pigs weighing more than 110kg (excluding sows and other breeding stock).

Producers must also declare that the pigs being entered have been on their holdings for at least 60 days. This is to prevent the money from going to dealers rather than farmers.