Ulster anger at pig scheme

14 August 1998

Ulster anger at pig scheme

ULSTER farmers leaders have denounced as "totally disgraceful" the governments decision to arrange an emergency pig slaughter scheme in the province.

Northern Ireland farm minister Lord Dubs confirmed on Wednesday that in order to address the growing welfare problems on farms, caused by the collapse in the pig market, the department of agriculture would arrange for the humane destruction and disposal, at government expense, of any pigs which farmers report as experiencing welfare problems. He added that he was sure farmers would support the move.

But Will Taylor, president of the Ulster Farmers Union, said the scheme would only compound the problem. "Virtually all producers are already suffering severe cash flow problems because they have either been unable to move pigs off their farms for a considerable number of weeks or, if they have been fortunate enough to do so, they have obtained ridiculously low prices," he said.

Feed compounders had been extremely supportive, with Ulsters pig farmers owing them more than £10m. That credit would not be extended if producers had no income to pay for feed. "It is, therefore, inevitable that the welfare of entire pig herds, not just the existing backlog of pigs, will be severely jeopardised by this totally inadequate scheme which was supposedly designed to alleviate welfare difficulties," Mr Taylor said.

The scheme announced by Lord Dubs does not provide any compensation.

But it will, the minister said, address the immediate problems of animal welfare, and the additional cost of feeding and housing surplus stock.

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