Voluntary ban sees live pig exports at standstill
EXPORTS of live pigs are already at a standstill after the breeders decision to introduce a voluntary ban on shipments from the UK as a precautionary measure.
This goes beyond the compulsory ban imposed by Brussels this week, which only relates to England.
"We have stopped all shipments until the end of August, when there should be more clarity on how the disease has developed," said managing director of JSR Healthcare, Brian Edwards.
The ban would have an immediate and serious impact on the company, he said, resulting in lost sales of £250,000-£300,000 a month. "The UK pig herd is now so small, exports are our life blood. But we pride ourselves on our high health reputation and do not want to jeopardise that."
About 60% of turnover is generated by exports, mainly to Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, though sales to Thailand and Malaysia have also been put on hold.
The ban would be reviewed at the end of this month and the firm had also agreed to blood test all stock for CSF beyond that date.
But while the loss of sales was serious for breeders, Mr Edwards did not believe it would have much impact on fatteners, even if the ban was prolonged and breeding gilts had to be slaughtered. "The UK pig market is so under-supplied already, a few more animals should not affect prices."
The voluntary ban has also been taken up by the UKs other two main pig breeders, PIC and Cotswold.
"We are not moving any live pigs or sperm out of the UK," said PIC marketing manager, Martin Whiting. "We are examining the possibility of shipping some from Scotland, but will not be doing anything for at least the next two weeks."
Continental customers would notice little difference, he added, with the companys genetic nucleus now located in the south of France.
Last year over 150,000 live pigs were exported by UK breeders, worth an estimated £12.5m. *