By Peter Crichton

IN spite of representations from the NPA and other Industry representatives, DEFRA has not been prepared to improve on the 30/head flat rate Welfare Slaughter Scheme payment.

DEFRA has, however, agreed that cull sows are a legitimate welfare case, and it is hoped that producers will now be able to make wider use of the scheme.

Stewart Huston, the NPA producer group chairman, has said that the 30 rate is too low for Industry purposes.

It also compares very unfavourably with payments for sheep and cattle which are set at much higher levels.

Before the foot-and-mouth crisis, a cull sow was worth 100 according to FARMERS WEEKLY averages. The current rate is just 30% of this figure, compared with cull ewes at 18 against a pre foot-and-mouth market value of 22.33, a drop of only 16%.

With foot-and-mouth outbreaks continuing in many parts of the UK, producers hopes of a resumption of meat exports which could lift cull-sow values may prove to be over optimistic.

Hauliers are also reported to be unhappy with new DEFRA rules on the disinfection of livestock vehicles, which could lead to some hauliers calling for national protests over these new and stringent restrictions.

Finally the pig industry remains on a knife-edge as foot-and-mouth outbreaks in North Yorkshire are on the fringe of pig-dense regions of the country.

Vets warn that if the virus is allowed to spread into any pig-producing regions, it could spell the end from many herds which up to now have avoided the disease.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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