Mixed signals from MAFF as pigs struggle

By FWi staff

ALTHOUGH the Agriculture Minister said in his 3 May Commons statement that “he felt optimistic about the future course of the foot-and-mouth disease”, the UK pig industry continues to struggle under the many related problems that have occurred.

The loss of the export market has lead to a collapse in cull sow demand and has also hit the value of shoulders and other manufacturing grade pigmeat.

The NPA is pressing for “clean” regions of the country to be identified to allow some form of limited resumption in export markets.

NPA manager Ian Campbell will be meeting George Noble of MAFF on Friday (4 May) to see if a framework for regional exports can be established.

Ian Campbell says that if some form of agreement could be reached there might be some export opportunities later in the year.

This would depend on MAFF and EU approval and no further foot-and-mouth outbreaks in currently uninfected areas.

In the meantime the effects of last weeks announcement by the Minister to drop the welfare slaughter scheme sow price to 30 per head have started to be felt.

Pig traders have reported that the former 75 sow price had to some extent put a “bottom” in the market, but the new price was forcing cull sows back on to an already weakened home market with long waiting lists building up.

James Black, NPA chairman, put the case for a reversal of the welfare scheme pig payment announcement to Baroness Hayman, junior Agriculture Minister, in London on Friday.

Sources have reported that at this stage there seems to be few signs of a U-turn on MAFF policy on these new payments.

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

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