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Pigs are a GOOD thing: discuss

by 5m Editor
6 July 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Pig producers will have less to fear from cross-compliance if they ensure that everyone understands the considerable contribution pig production can make to good arable husbandry, and to the environment generally.

National
Pig
Association

NPA Logo
THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

As extensive livestock continues its exodus from much of the countryside, pigs and poultry play an increasingly important role in helping arable farmers keep their land in good agricultural and environmental condition.

It is essential, therefore, that the pig industry states its case clearly, to ensure the European Commission, and national government and its agencies, understand the complete picture.

This is the view that emerged from an NPA East Midlands region meeting last night, with regional manager Ian Campbell arguing that the themes for such an exercise should flow from the grass roots.

  • In what ways does your pig enterprise benefit the rest of your farm, and your neighbours' farms?

  • How does it benefit the countryside in general?

  • Is it possible to raise livestock intensively in such a way as to create more positives for the environment than negatives?

Please contribute your views to help NPA produce a paper that explains the bigger picture to government and government agencies, and to anyone else who is interested.

Pig producers have generally been tight-lipped on the subject of cross-compliance, to avoid focusing attention on possible problem areas. Indeed farmers as a whole have been slow to engage in the debate; there were only 460 responses to Defra's cross-compliance consultation, which ended June 20.

Outdoor pig producers are particularly concerned that the supply of suitable land for outdoor pigs could dry up if landlords see pigs as problematic because of cross-compliance.

It might even be possible (though it is unlikely) that the small print in cross-compliance measures could make outdoor pig keeping unfeasible. But as producers were keen to point out at last night's meeting, it is easy with modern machinery to reinstate land that has been mauled about a bit by outdoor pigs. And what price do you put on the pleasure that outdoor herds give to welfarists, consumers and people visiting the countryside?

There is a strong case for viewing sandland and pigs as a winning combination. But it is up to producers to prove their case.

Background to cross-compliance

To claim single farm payment for eligible land, a producer will have to meet a number of environmental, animal welfare and socio-economic criteria. These are broadly split into three areas:

  • Statutory management requirements: Eighteen EU regulations and directives in force already in Britain and other member states.

  • Good agricultural and environmental condition: The land must be kept in good agricultural and environmental order.

  • Protection of permanent pasture: Land that is in permanent pasture should be kep in permanent pasture.

There are three potential modes for inspection:

  • The Rural Payments Agency will do everything.

  • The Rural Payments Agency will do the majoprity but delegate to agencies dealing with their normal statutory checks.

  • The fourteen agencies involved in policing the relevant EU rules and regulations will carry out their own checks.

Source: National Pig Association - 6th July 2004

5m Editor