UK pig farmers will soon run out of room to feed and water healthy pigs, which cannot be sent to slaughter, because of restrictions imposed by officials due to the latest outbreak of the highly contagious disease, Swine Fever.
An estimated 40,000 animals a week, representing around 20% of the nation’s weekly pig supply, cannot be sent to slaughter and hundreds of farmers cannot afford to pay for these animals to be humanely slaughtered on the farms, as they have seen their incomes disappear overnight, due to the Swine Fever outbreak.
The Meat and Livestock Commission has also warned a prolonged ban on live exports could have a devastating effect on the industry, which is worth £12m in exports and accounts for 15% of the UK market.
Jim Scudamore, the government’s chief veterinary officer has said it will be several weeks before work is completed to allow the lifting of embargoes, and it will be necessary to slaughter thousands of pigs and carry out large scale checks and disinfection work before the Swine Fever crisis could be said to be over.
Many farmers have already been selling pigs at a loss for the past two years because of the recession, and now, if they have to stand the loss of thousands of healthy animals, many could be bankrupted.
A spokesman for the MLC said: “Most pig farmers have been making quite large losses for the last two years and they really are not in a financial situation to be able to bear any additional losses at the moment.”
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The Dutch government introduced a support marketing scheme, when two years ago Holland was hit by Swine Fever, and under the scheme, the EU would pay 70% of the market price of the healthy pigs, and the government would pay the remaining 30%.
The National Pig Association will urge the agriculture minister, Nick Brown, to immediately introduce a similar support marketing scheme for UK pig farmers.
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