Action to Support Pig Sector

SCOTLAND - A Task Force will be set up immediately to alleviate the plight of Scotland's pig meat sector, it was announced today.
calendar icon 17 April 2008
clock icon 4 minute read
Industry representatives will be appointed to a task force to examine the feasibility of proposals put to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead which could help ease pressure on the sector.

Among the points to be considered by the task force are:
  • Introducing a vaccination programme for pig wasting disease
  • An audit of standards, transparency and labelling of imported pork Improved food labelling
  • A support scheme for producers continuing in business
The Cabinet Secretary has also asked the Farm Animal Welfare Council to report on welfare standards for pigmeat imports to Scotland.

Making the announcement during his appearance before the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs Committee today, Mr Lochhead said that he was very aware of the industry's difficulties and was committed to doing all that I can to demonstrate this government's support for the sector.

"I have held several meetings with industry representatives as well as lobbying both the UK and European Parliaments on the part they can play in assisting this vital industry," he said. "Over and above the measures I have already taken by us, a number of practical solutions have been raised which the industry feels will help the sector recover and secure a viable long-term future."

Committed to Deliver

He remains hopeful that he will be able to deliver on many of these issues and he has called for the immediate formation of a short lived task force to look into the feasibility of these ideas. This will identify areas of highest value and how solutions can be delivered .

"In addition to that I have asked my officials to examine thoroughly allegations made to me about the sub-standard conditions under which many pigs are kept before being sold on our supermarket shelves," said Mr Lochhead. "It is important that we have the information needed before making representation to the Farm Animal Welfare Council which I hope to do in the coming weeks."

The Scottish Government has been engaging closely with all parts of the supply chain on the difficulties faced by the pig sector. Representations have also been made to the European Agriculture Commissioner and the UK Government.

The Scottish Government will begin immediately to invite representatives on to the task force to discuss suggestions for actions raised by the industry. These include: resurrecting the ongoers' scheme; funding trial vaccination; relaxing rules on the importation of GM feed; health initiatives; government insistence on procuring only Scottish produce in their contracts; improved food labelling; research funding; and placing a higher value on locally produced food.

A total of £30,000 has already been committed to a review of the pig industry by the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) and £300,000 to a fifth quarter added value project, both of which will benefit the pig industry in the long-term.
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