Pig farmers urged to use scheme

29 August 2000

Pig farmers urged to use scheme

by Alistair Driver

THE National Pig Association (NPA) is urging pig farmers to take advantage of the governments slaughter scheme, due to start on Wednesday (30 August).

The plea came after farmers said they would refuse to enter pigs into the scheme until they were told whether they would be compensated for swine fever.

The free scheme aims to relieve the pressure on over-crowded pig units under movement restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the disease.

However, pig farmers may not be compensated for the slaughter of their healthy animals, even though hauliers, slaughterers and renderers will be paid.

According to the NPA, the cost of compensating farmers for disposing of healthy animals would be less than 15 million for 150,000 pigs.

But agriculture minister Nick Brown has said only that he is discussing a possible compensation scheme with the Treasury and the European Union.

Pig farmer Mark Jude, who has a fattening unit in Norfolk, said some farmers not experiencing welfare difficulties would not move their pigs.

They will not move their pigs off farm, he told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

They need to know. Their bank wants to know how much money theyre going to get for these pigs.

Banks will not allow them just to send pigs. No business on earth would be expected to send a product somewhere and not know what its going to get for it.

Farmers who keep pigs back on over-crowded farms face prosecution for over-stocking. But the animals may not have a market even if they are moved.

John Godfrey, NPA chairman, said he had no idea whether compensation would be paid, although he was hoping for a clearer indication by Wednesday.

Mr Brown may come up with a compensation scheme for farmers, but could then have difficulty convincing the Treasury and getting EU approval, he said.

Nevertheless, farmers to take part in the disposal scheme so that the welfare problems in surveillance areas around the infected areas can be alleviated, he said.

In the meantime, the NPA would continue to push for compensation to alleviate welfare problems among farmers, Mr Godfrey told the NPA website.

The majority of farmers in swine fever control zones have now exhausted all financial avenues and many are dealing with their banks on a day-to-day basis.

All sorts of threats are being made by pig producers who have been pushed beyond the bounds of endurance, he said.

But we are not in the business of making threats. We want to continue to work with government to bring this crisis to a reasonable conclusion.

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