Pig association warns of mass exodus

By FW staff

MORE than half the countrys pig industry could disappear unless prices rise back to break-even or higher
by September. That was the warning from the British Pig Association this week, publishing the findings of
its latest survey and launching its Fresh Options campaign, designed to help those forced from business.

The survey suggests 30% of capacity will still have been lost even if the 94p/kg dw break-even point is
reached by June.

“Farmers have been hanging on by eating into their savings, increasing overdrafts to high
levels and using trade credit,” says BPA chief executive designate Tony Houghton. “The risk of a mass
exodus is now on the cards.”

Also apparent is the “human dimension” of the crisis, with more than
two-thirds of those questioned knowing at least one farmer-friend close to a nervous breakdown.

But it will
be May at the earliest before even 90p/kg is hit, says Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission.
A rapid rise could then take levels to well over £1/kg later in the year. But bumper production in Europe is
likely to keep the lid on any increase. The Danish herd, for example, expanded 5% in the 12 months to
January. Mr Sloyan says the current situation is a “human tragedy”.

“The big problem now is that it is those who have borrowed the most to make themselves efficient
or conform with new welfare regulations that are leaving.”

With last weeks average about 75p/kg dw,
farmers are in a “Catch-22”, says NFU pig committee vice chairman Nigel Rowe. They are losing money,
but collapsed stock values and the lack of potential other uses for sites left them with no asset value.

NFU-backed Fresh Options campaign will help cash-strapped pigmen reconsider their future, says Mr Rowe. The drive will offer retraining, while pushing for more government support and redundancy
payments from Brussels.

See more