6 January 2000
Scots have doubts about pig crisis
by FWi staff
A SECOND Scottish newspaper has printed a story which questions the seriousness of the plight faced by many of Britains pig farmers.
Figures showing that pig slaughterings surged in early December raise doubts about farmers claims that the sector is in crisis, says The Scotsman.
A similar article published last week by The Herald also said that the pig industry faced embarrassment over the latest abattoir slaughter figures.
The stories will outrage many pig farmers who claim that their livelihoods are on the verge of collapse because pig prices have plummeted.
The papers say slaughterings last month rose to within 7% of last years high level and that the pre-Christmas kill was heavier than in 1995, 1996 or 1997.
Several pig industry organisations have warned on several occasions during the past year that the British pig industry is in serious crisis, the papers point out.
But the warnings now appear embarrassingly pessimistic because the weekly slaughter rate early last month was only 6.3% less than a year ago, they conclude.
Pig producers, however, claim the 18-month crisis has cost upwards of 25,000 jobs and had a devastating impact on the rural economy.
A report which will be released next week by the National Pig Association and British Pig Executive will warn that many more jobs are in danger.
The report is intended to be a warning to government ministers that this is their last chance to help the ailing industry.
It will outline the huge cutbacks in pigmeat production and will show the effect on the whole economy of financial losses suffered in the pig sector.
Provisional figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture show the English pig breeding herd contracted by 5 per cent between June and November last year.
The statistics show that female breeding pig numbers fell from 573,000 in June to 546,000 in November, according to the November 1999 pig survey.
The number of fattening pigs in England fell by 4 per cent over the same period but provisional results for the rest of the UK are not yet available.