MSP Report Welcomed Depending on Price to Survive

SCOTLAND, UK - NFU Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and the Environment Committee’s report into the Scottish pig industry. However, even if the Scottish Government and producers are able to deliver on the Committee’s recommendations, the sector’s future can only be determined by a fair return from the marketplace.
calendar icon 2 July 2009
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The report, published last week (Thursday, 25 June) is the culmination of the Committee’s inquiry into the industry, which began in spring 2008. This followed a collapse in pigmeat prices due to continued low returns; unilateral UK welfare legislation, which put UK producers at a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts; and Foot and Mouth disease.

Among the Committee’s recommendations to address the decline in Scottish pig production, MSPs suggested that the Scottish Government and industry take the following steps:

  • Support Vion Halls, Broxburn - Scotland’s only industrial pig processing plant;
  • Advocate the creation of a supermarket ombudsman;
  • Improve producers’ efficiency;
  • Increase the distinctiveness and marketability of Scottish pork;
  • Encourage new entrants into pig farming;
  • Encourage established producers to invest in their business;
  • Boost consumer demand for Scottish pork;
  • Encourage greater consumption of local produce via public procurement contracts;
  • Provide financial support to help meet some costs of complying with legislation.

NFU Scotland’s Pigs Working Group Chairman, Philip Sleigh, who gave evidence to the Committee during its inquiry, said, “We thank Rural Affairs Committee for its unprecedented concern in the Scottish pig industry. Its members have devoted time and resources to conducting this inquiry and publishing their report, which makes many good recommendations.

“While producers understand that politicians can do little to move market returns directly, collective and vehement political will could bring about the creation of a supermarket ombudsman to oversee fairness throughout the supply chain. Long-term confidence and the benefits of increased efficiency, improved infrastructure, more new entrants, greater consumer demand and clearer labelling will only be achieved if the pig sector is underpinned by a decent return from the marketplace.

“It is no surprise that the Committee noticed a distinction between retailers’ and producers’ views on the state of the industry and its future prospects as supermarkets enjoy vigorous financial health while producers’ returns are squeezed.

“The Scottish Government’s recent announcement on the Scotland Rural Development Plan (SRDP) included scope to increase slurry storage grant aid from 40 per cent to 50 per cent, which is very welcome. In addition, last week’s news that pig units are to be exempted from revised European rules, which would have included more Scottish pig farms in stringent and costly Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control (IPPC) regulations, will be a great relief to pigs producers.

“However, the situation still remains that pigmeat produced elsewhere in the EU under lower welfare conditions still finds a ready market amongst some retailers here. In some cases, this meat can be processed in the UK and labelled as Scottish or British, undercutting UK producers and misleading consumers. The Committee’s recommendation that clearer labelling be introduced so that consumers can determine the full origin of the product they are buying is also to be commended.

“NFU Scotland continues to work closely with Scottish Government at the highest level to try to reverse the decline in the Scottish pig industry and will respond to the Rural Affairs and the Environment Committee’s report fully in due course.”

Further Reading

- You can view the Committee's report by clicking here.
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