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NPA steps in to save exports

by 5m Editor
29 September 2006, at 10:21am

UK - Exports of pig breeding stock by P&O Ferries look like winning a reprieve, reports the NPA's Digby Scott.

The company caused dismay in the pig genetics community when it extended its existing ban on slaughter animals to all breeding stock. One of its problems had been differentiating between slaughter animals and genuine breeding animals.

Recognising this as a genuine concern with sheep and cattle, NPA chairman Stewart Houston proposed an NPA positive list of pig breeders and hauliers. This concept has now been accepted and extended by P&O Ferries: it is minded to allow shipments of pig breeding stock to resume, as long as NPA is the account holder.

If this arrangement comes to fruition it will be a life-saver for Britain’s pig genetics industry. A permanent ban by P&O Ferries might have encouraged other shippers to introduce a similar ban, and although chartered air freight remains an option, it is expensive and can pose logistical difficulties.

Following a meeting between NPA and P&O Ferries, Stewart Houston will now explain the position to the pig breeding companies and seek their views. NPA will also be taking advice on the implications – legal and logistic – of being a booking agent for the genetics companies.

If the proposal is adopted it will apply to all shipments of breeding stock, including shipments by British Pig Association members. NPA already has Defra support for the concept and would also seek the support of the reputable animal welfare organisations, RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming.

If the agreement with P&O becomes a reality it will cover trade in both directions. ‘If someone wanted to bring in breeding stock from, say, Belgium, they would have to do it through us,’ said Stewart Houston.

When he met P&O, Stewart Houston said he fully understood the company’s response to unscrupulous dealers in other sectors passing off livestock for slaughter as breeding stock, particularly in the face of the animal rights protests the company had endured.

'However it is a shame that highly reputable and welfare-conscious pig genetics companies have to suffer as a consequence,’ he said. ‘Britain has a global reputation for the production of genetically superior high-health pig breeding stock and at least three of its breeding companies had won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.

Hull remains closed to shipments of all animals but following intervention by NPA it proved possible to get an already-scheduled shipment of pigs through Dover last week.

5m Editor