31 March 2001
Leading pig farmer decides to quit
by John Burns, south-west England correspondent
ONE of Britains leading farmers claims that the government has left him no choice but to close down his business rearing thousands of pigs.
Robert Persey, who is a pig south-west producer group representative on the National Pig Association, has a 15,000-pig finishing unit.
In an open letter to agriculture minister Nick Brown, Mr Persey writes of the impending closure and that three excellent stockmen have lost their jobs.
Mr Persey says he told Mr Brown 15 months ago at the Oxford Farming Conference that excessive supermarket power would export the British pig industry.
Mr Persey also notes that during a visit to the West Country a year ago he tackled Prime Minister Tony Blair about excessive costs faced by British pig producers.
Overheads such as levies for pigmeat promotions and swine fever compensation are being born by fewer pigs and fewer producers, says Mr Persey.
“The British pig industry has gone beyond the point of no return in terms of critical mass. Once our market is lost the Danes and Dutch will never let us have it back. ”
The British pig industry has the highest welfare in the world, but also the highest cost of production, primarily due to government-imposed costs, said Mr Persey.