Suffering goes on in pig surveillance zones

By Peter Crichton

PIG producers in East Anglia continue to face severe problems if their herds are still locked up in CSF zones.

Fifty-eight farms are still under Form A restrictions banning all movements of stock, and almost 60,000 pigs have been slaughtered on-farm as either infected herds or dangerous contacts.

The failure of the National Pig Association to agree a full market-value package with the government under the Welfare Slaughter Scheme is reported to be causing great welfare and financial problems on all units still in surveillance zones.

At this stage, although there have been a series of proposals and counter proposals, the best offer received from the Government is 50 per pig, with the balance to come “from the industry”.

The problem here is that it could take several months before the necessary levy application procedures can be passed through the government and reach hard-pressed producers.

To make matters worse, spot pig prices today are reported to be “on fire” with across the board rises of between 4-8p/kg.

This widens the gap between an open-market 100kg pig, worth 82.50, and a Welfare Slaughter Scheme pig to a massive 32.50 per head.

It strengthens the case for welfare-scheme pig payments to be linked to the AESA to track the physical market.

Producers are also claiming that around 500,000 of their money tied up in the Aujeskeys Fund total of 700,000 could also be fed into the scheme to relieve the financial problems faced by producers.

The rise in spot pig prices highlights the growing shortage of slaughter pig availability at a time when demand is normally firm.

The latest Signet slaughter statistics for September point to a fall in weekly throughput to just 228,000 pigs compared with 269,500 a year ago.

Although the GB AESA remains hardly unchanged this week at 100.42p/kg deadweight, rise in spot and auction market prices is expected to lift the AESA in the weeks ahead during the run-up to Christmas.

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

  • See more