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Scottish Pig Producers to Rally at Downing Street

by 5m Editor
1 March 2011, at 1:06pm

SCOTLAND, UK - Scottish pig farmers are to join a national rally at Downing Street this week (Thursday, 3 March) to highlight to politicians, retailers and the public that rocketing costs and poor prices are putting the nation’s pig farmers out of business.

The crisis has already claimed one of Scotland’s oldest pig farms, with pig production on the 600-sow unit at Dourie, Port William in South West Scotland being wound down after more than 50 years in the business. The owners, the Christie family, estimate that substantial money is now being lost on every pig sold from the farm and the closure of the unit will result in six redundancies. Business partner, Gregor Christie, is a member of NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee.

The rally at Downing Street has been organised to highlight that the nation’s pig industry is in danger of being hammered over the next 24 months as a result of rocketing feed costs in tandem with lower prices paid by supermarkets. Despite being world leaders in terms of welfare-friendly production, the rally will warn all parties that if more farmers are forced to quit the industry, then consumers will be stuck with lower-welfare imported pork, sausages, bacon and ham.

NFU Scotland has contacted all major UK retailers recently asking for them to show greater commitment to home-produced product and to pay a fair price to cover the cost of production on farm.

NFU Scotland’s Vice President John Picken and Pigs Committee Chairman Phil Sleigh will join a dozen Scottish pig producers at Downing Street. Ahead of the rally, Mr Picken said: “The blunt facts are that, as a result of soaring feed costs, many pig farmers are making substantial losses on every pig they sell. But the nation’s pig farmers have a great story to tell and one that we are sharing with politicians and the public. We are also reminding retailers that we need and deserve better treatment from our supermarkets.

“This rally at Downing Street will tell all politicians from the Prime Minister to back-benchers that we are an industry that is in crisis. We need continued political support if high welfare, environmentally-friendly pig production is to have a future here. At the same time, we have been taking our positive message to the consumers, and banners promoting our pork and bacon are now to be found the length and breadth of the country.

“Retailers remain the crucial link in the chain. Recent examinations of supermarket shelves have shown that too many of our major retailers are too quick to stock shelves with cheap, imported pork and bacon when the opportunity arises. We want to see them stand by buy local pig farmers and pay them a price that properly recognises the costs they face and the higher level of standards that we produce to he in Britain.“

NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chairman, Philip Sleigh added: “The sad closure of one of Scotland’s oldest pig units shows that we are an industry in genuine crisis and that production at a loss cannot continue. Every pig unit supports economic activity and jobs – either directly on the farm or indirectly in other associated industries.

“It is a sad and frustrating fact that in just over a decade, the number of sows kept in Scotland has fallen from more than 80,000 to just 46,000. Over the same period, demand for pork and bacon in Britain has remained roughly the same but more than 50 per cent is now supplied from overseas, often produced in systems that would not be permitted here.

“Every piggery that shuts its doors in Scotland calls into question whether we will retain the critical mass of pigs needed to keep our abattoirs stocked and supply consumers with pork under the Specially Selected Scotch label. If politicians and retailers stand back and allow that to happen, it would be a travesty.“