MLC withdraws price forecasts under wraps

12 November 1999

MLC withdraws price forecasts under wraps

PUBLICATION of pig price forecasts have been withdrawn by the Meat and Livestock Commission amid mounting criticism that it has misled producers into the worst industry crisis for generations.

But Mick Sloyan, head of pig strategy, has defended the decision saying it is the only responsible action given the circumstances.

"Were are not shedding our responsibility," declares Mr Sloyan. "It has become almost impossible to calculate prospects when factors outside supply and demand – such as political decisions to remove private storage aid and export refunds at will – have such a damming effect and cannot be anticipated.

"The forecasts were intended to inform producers, but many people, including those outside pig production, have taken gross margins at face value and let it dictate decisions."

Most criticism of the MLC is aimed at the April prediction which suggested domestic trade would recover towards the year end. Independent commentator Peter Crichton says many producers stayed in hoping to benefit from the price recovery. But weekly losses in the industry are now running at £3.24m.

Instead of publishing prospects, MLC staff will explain likely influences and changes in the market to farmers contacting its headquarters. It will then be up to individuals to decide what effect it will have on their business, says Mr Sloyan.

The no-publication policy is set to continue until markets either resume historic trading patterns on which the MLCs economic models are based or new models prove their accuracy. &#42

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