The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Nick Brown, on Thursday announced:

"As a result of the exceptional circumstances affecting pig producers under movement restriction as a result of the CSF control measures, I have decided that payments linked strictly to dealing with animal welfare problems will be made in relation to the Animal Welfare (Disposal) Scheme which opened on 29 August 2000. Payments will be retrospective to cover all animals taken under that scheme. A flat rate of £35 per pig for each batch averaging over 60kg per pig will be paid. This is in addition to the free transport, slaughter and disposal of these animals under the scheme. Where smaller animals need to be culled to address over-crowding and other animal welfare problems resulting from the movement restrictions, a flat fee of £10 per pig will be paid.

"Just over one week ago, I met leading industry figures and other stakeholders to explain that I was actively exploring the possibility of welfare payments with the UK Treasury and European Commission. A State Aid notification has been lodged with the Commission. The Government's response reflects the exceptionally difficult circumstances the pig industry has been through. Our top priority remains the containment and eradication of the outbreak and thus the removal of all movement restrictions.

"It is imperative that the livestock sector as a whole, in close consultation with Government, takes measures to insure itself in future against the consequences of animal disease outbreaks. I am pleased that the livestock sector and associated industries recognise the need for such a step. I am grateful that representatives of these interests have agreed to join a government working party to examine the practicalities and specifics of such measures. The working party will convene as soon as possible and report in the spring."