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31m Support Package for Scottish Pig Industry

by 5m Editor
7 August 2008, at 12:11pm

SCOTLAND - A 31 million package of support to secure a sustainable long-term future for Scotland's pig producers was pledged today by the Scottish Parliament.

The package involves:

  • Total funding of £1 million to support the pig sector
  • An immediate £200,000 to improve the marketing of pig meat products to consumers, to be drawn from resources already earmarked for the red meat sector following foot and mouth last year
  • In line with a number of the Pig Sector Task Force's recommendations, around £100,000 to begin research into labelling and work to improve animal health
  • Around £700,000 for future projects to be allocated in partnership with the industry, allowing the impact of new industry player Vion to be fully taken into account

The package comes as the pig industry in Scotland enters a new chapter following the arrival of Vion and with the imminent publication of the Strategic Review of the Pig Industry commissioned by the Scottish Government. It also follows the recent report of the Pig Sector Task Force report which is published today.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:

"We are pledging £1 million to fund projects that will improve marketing, productivity and pig health to help achieve long-term sustainability for this vital sector.

"Our pig industry has been through very tough times recently with rising feed costs that came on top of last year's foot and mouth restrictions. With the arrival of Vion, a new chapter lies ahead for the pig industry and we are keen to help equip pig producers for the new challenges and opportunities.

"This package is the first of its kind in Scotland for the pig sector and demonstrates the Scottish Government's confidence in a sector that produces a top quality product and meets the highest welfare standards.

"It follows a range of other measures already taken by this Government to support our pig farmers. Although higher prices and lower feed costs are helping to reduce pressure on the industry, challenges remain. These have been clearly set out by the Pig Sector Task Force in its report published today.

"Just as the report looks ahead, my priority is to direct available resources strategically to projects that invest for the future. Further details of how the £1 million we are commiting to the industry will be allocated will be taken in the weeks and months ahead in partnership with the industry which will also be able to decide how to take forward those Task Force recommendations that look to the future.

"The takeover of Grampian Country Foods by meat processing company Vion has dramatically changed the shape of the pig industry. The company has a clear commitment to the industry's future but the company is still developing its strategic thinking. I am keen for a pig industry partnership to sit down and decide which projects can best support the sector in the months ahead.

"I am confident that today's announcement, together with our future actions, will benefit producers, processors, retailers and consumers and deliver sustainable, economic growth in the industry for years to come. I want an industry which is not only efficient and productive but world-renowned for its quality."

The Pig Sector Task Force, chaired by Gordon McKen, was a short life task force set up by Mr Lochhead to consider actions to ensure a long-term sustainable future for the pig sector.

Although decisions on how much of the £1 million announced today is spent are yet to be made, the following measures have been confirmed:

  • Research into pigmeat labelling - the cost of this will depend on the outcome of a tendering exercise
  • Research on post-weaning multi-systemic syndrome - the cost of this will depend on the outcome of negotiations with researchers
  • In addition, using resources already earmarked for the red meat sector following foot and mouth, £200,000 will be spent on marketing of pork

Decisions on exactly how and when the bulk of the money will be spent will be taken in partnership with the industry.

The labelling research will form part of the National Food and Drink Policy announced last month.

Today's announcement follows on from actions already underway or complete including:

  • A £30,000 strategic review into the pig sector to help develop market resilience
  • A £300,000 project to look at adding value to the fifth quarter in the red meat sector
  • Writing to all major retailers to ask what they are doing to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the pig sector
  • Highlighting the difficulties facing the pig sector at the highest levels in the European Commission
  • Hosting a meeting to bring the whole supply chain together for the first time - retailers, hospitality and wholesale sector with the pig industry - to discuss ways forward for the future sustainability of the pig sector

5m Editor