Industry ponders pig levy plan

10 November 2000

Industry ponders pig levy plan

By Alistair Driver

CONSULTATION will start next week on a controversial proposal to introduce a 20p levy on pigs.

This is designed to help of East Anglian pig farmers hit by swine fever restrictions and to prepare the industry for future crises.

The Meat and Livestock Commission will consult UK pig industry organisations in the next two months on the scheme.

Its pig arm, the British Pig Executive (BPEX), backed the scheme, proposed by the National Pig Association, at a meeting this week.

The levy money would be additional to that already collected for the MLCs pigmeat promotion fund.

It would initially be used to top up government payments for farmers hit by swine fever restrictions who have sent pigs into the Welfare Disposal Scheme.

Over 100,000 pigs have been slaughtered so far under the scheme set up to alleviate problems caused by overstocked farms.

The Government has agreed to pay the 80% of the money paid to farmers who enter pigs into the scheme.

The rest will come, backdated for every pig, from the new levy if the proposal is accepted.

Once these payments were no longer needed, the money would go into a fund to help prevent and deal with any future industry crises.

National Pig Association producer group chairman Stewart Houston said the scheme will help victims of the swine fever crisis and prepare industry for future crises.

But Mr Houston, who is also a BPEX member, admitted that the proposal has had its critics from within the industry, particularly in Scotland.

“The main concern has been that the scheme allows the government to abdicate its own responsibilities. But we have been assured by the government that this will not happen.”

Some farmers wanted a levy scheme to focus on the swine fever crisis, but according the Pig World website, farm minister Nick Brown said legislation a longer-term scheme.

Around 1200 producers have been caught up in the restrictions which could and could still be affected into next year.

It was estimated in a recent Commons debate that producers have already lost 4 million, while the total industry cost of the outbreak could be 20m.

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