Memorandum submitted by P D and G S Mortimer
P D and G S Mortimer (husband and wife) have
a seven acre holding, in North Suffolk, solely producing finished
pigs from a 220+ sow-breeding herd. Each week approximately 90
piglets are born resulting in 90 finished pigs, at a weight of
100kg live weight, being marketed to a local abattoir. The pigs
are used for the fresh meat trade.
Sequence of events to date:
8 August 2000Became aware of the outbreak
of CSF at 8 pm as a result of the local press telephoning and
asking for informationno indication as to the location
of the infected units.
9 August 2000Lack of any communication
about the confirmation of CSF resulted in complete confusion for
farmers, haulage operators and abattoirs. Had to wait one and
a half hours with sows on a trailer outside my unit before being
cleared to load as there was no clarification where the Surveillance
Area was actually located and the abattoir refused to accept pigs
until it was known if we were outside the area.
11 August 2000Hear, unofficially, that
a nursery unit at Rumburgh is to be slaughtered out. Rumburgh
is about three miles "as the crow flies" from my unit.
12 August 2000Received a telephone call
from the Marketing Company who sell our finished pigs to say that
I am unable to send the 175 pigs, booked for slaughter on Monday
14, to the abattoir as am now placed in an Infected Area. Checked
the NPA's website to ascertain the situation and find the details
of the area there described but because of our location and MAFF's
reluctance to pinpoint the parish at the centre of the disease
we are still unclear as to whether we are in a Protection or Surveillance
14 August 2000175 pigs not sent for slaughter.
Still no communication from the Ministry about whether my unit
is in a Surveillance Area and/or Protection Area. Attended the
CSF Crisis Meeting called to meet with Baroness Hayman and MAFF.
At this meeting still no confirmation about the location of infected
units and no helpful clarification about future plans.
15 August 2000Finally received official
notification from MAFF confirming that we are in two, we presume
different areas. However, confirmation as to where the infected
unit is in relation to this unit has not been made. The "Bush
Telegraph" is definitely more efficient.
18 August 2000The Minister states that
CSF in pigs is a business risk.
26 August 2000The Minister announces
the Pig Welfare Scheme with no compensation payments, therefore
no pigs are being entered into the Scheme, instead they are being
stockpiled on farmsto give them away is the certain road
29 August 2000The Welfare Scheme starts.
Still no pigs have been entered into the scheme.
1 September 2000The Minister offers £10
for a pig up to 60kg weight and £35 for pigs over 60 kg weight.
7 September 2000My farm is forced to
enter 220 pigs into the scheme as the pigs are overweight and
causing welfare problems, average weight sold is 118kg per pig.
9 September 2000The Minister revises
the Welfare Scheme payments retrospectively. Up to 45kg: £10,
45kg-100 kg: £30 and over 100kg: £50. Plus a £15
industry top up to be raised by a levy. (As of 29 November 2000
this has not yet been actioned).
This levy should not have been necessary, as
the government should pay full market value for pigs entering
the Scheme. The Minister states that it is unprecedented and a
one-off. If the British regulations had been re-assessed following
the Dutch outbreak of CSF in 1998-99 it would have been realised
that EU law had superseded the existing British regulations in
which, before 1990, pigs could go into the food chain, and a strategic
plan to deal with this situation could have been put in place.
21 September 2000100 pigs sent into the
welfare scheme. The average weight was 119.20kg live.
11 October 2000140 pigs sent into the
welfare scheme. The average weight was 116.42kg live.
19 October 2000200 pigs sent into the
welfare scheme. The average weight was 119.70kg live.
1 November 2000200 pigs sent into the
welfare scheme. The average weight was 110kg live.
3 November 2000The failure to discover
outbreak number 16 at Hempnall caused mayhem for both the Ministry
and pig farmers in the zone as it was a heavy and old virus.
6 November 2000The Welfare Scheme changed
to how it currently stands. £12 plus 55p per kg capped at
£75 per 115 kg pig.
15 November 2000The Minister announces
3km "buffer" zone kill in South Norfolk. This should
have been carried out weeks earlier as the Dutch vets advised.
Outbreak 16 (3 November 2000) would not then have occurred as
it was only 1.25 km from outbreak number six. (suggested reason
for number 16 not being previously slaughtered out was that it
was a very large herd and the bill for valuation for the pigs
would have been very large.)
23 November 2000476 pigs sent into the
Welfare Scheme. The average weight was 104.37kg live.
Financial Loss Summary for P D and G S Mortimer
Total number of pigs entered into the Welfare Scheme
|Payment received from the Intervention Board
|Total payment due from the Intervention Board (industry levy not yet raised)
|Still waiting for final payment of||£28,108(a)
|True market value for pigs entered into the Welfare Scheme
|Total loss (after all payments from Intervention Board received)
|Current outstanding losses at 29 November 2000(a + b)
* no interest charges or increased costs have been taken
The Minister, Mr Brown, said there would be no discrimination
between the way this country's farmers would be treated and the
way the Dutch farmers were treated by their governmentthat
should mean English farmers should receive the full market value
for all pigs caught up in the swine fever surveillance areas just
as the Dutch farmers did in their CSF outbreak.
In our situation today, we remain held under restrictions
until Christmas and are being discriminated against as the market
value price is rising steadily and we are still only receiving
basic compensation. We need the extra money that is to be raised
by the industry levy immediately, even if a bridging loan has
to be arranged in the interim.
My breeding unit is no longer able to run efficiently as
I am unable to buy in replacement breeding stock or cull the old
breeding stock at the proper market value. This will have long
term repercussions on the viability of my herd.
Ministry vets have now revealed that in the 3km South Norfolk
zone, where all commercial pigs are in the process of being slaughtered
on farm to create "buffer" zones, pet pigs are not being
treated in the same way. They are not being slaughtered therefore
they remain a potential source of infection of CSF.
THE CSF OUTBREAK:
Being unable to move pigs off the unit at full market value
has a number of consequences:
Loss of incomeResults from being unable to
sell pigs at true market value.
Continuing and increasing costsCosts of feeding
and attending the pigs have increased as the animals have been
held back to maximise the income and qualify for the Welfare scheme.
Increased borrowing from bankTo meet these
extra costs money has had to be borrowed from the bank.
Threat of bankruptcyAfter recovering from the
recent difficulties of low prices there is the very real threat
of bankruptcy. Finances are already stretched and Bank overdrafts
will not last for long. How long before the bankswhich
are not charitable institutionsforeclose on many businesses
affected by CSF? Further borrowings will need to be paid back
and will the money be there?
Unable to plan financiallyThere can be no planning
with the bank as to how much money will be needed or how long
it will be before any real income will be received since it is
not known for how long there will be Movement Restrictions in
Future financial instabilityCombining the sums
of money borrowed with increased costs the future financial sustainability
of the unit has to be questioned.
Impact on the Farm Assurance StandardsThe Intervention
Board has been overloading lorries and using goads, which are
banned under the Farm Assurance Welfare Scheme. It would seem
there are double standards.
On a personal level the effects of this outbreak are immeasurable.
Stress to the familyThis stems from:
(a) initially being kept in the dark as to the location
of the infected units;
(b) the uncertainty about the immediate future (time spans,
ability to market the pigs); and
(c) worry about the financial implications of CSF, knowing
that bankruptcy could be a reality and this means losing our home.
Employee stressemployees are also suffering
as they fear redundancy and the loss of future financial security.
They are highly skilled pigmen who know no other trade.
CSF TO DATE:
Lack of official informationThe first official
communication was received on 15 August 2000. This was four days
after confirmation of CSF on a unit about three miles from my
Access to informationHad there not been access
to the Internet on this unit we would have had no detailed knowledge
as to when the Surveillance Areas were put in place or how widespread
they were. Some farmers do not have computers, access to the Internet
or fax machinesthe only updates they have received have
been by word of mouth or the press. One producer said that the
only way they kept up to date was by reading the local newspaper.
As the outbreak has continued the updating of the Ministry website
has been too slow (up to three days behind).
LegislationThe legislation being used to handle
this CSF outbreak is dated 1956, which is not applicable to the
structure of today's pig industry and a review must be a priority.
Ministry co-ordinationdatabase inadequate.
Ministry officials rang to arrange to do a blood test while their
colleagues were already on the farm carrying one out.
Lack of urgencyThere seems to have been a marked
lack of awareness by the Government and the Ministry in London
of the dire consequences of their inability to respond adequately
to the situation quickly enough. As a result, orders from London
to the people in the field seem to have been out of touch with
the reality. To the farmers it seems to have been government by
cheque book and this can only result in the undermining of the
efforts of the field staff and farmers to do what they know is
necessary to eradicate this outbreak of CSF.
We would like to thank the local operation at Bury St Edmunds
for the help they have tried to give and their understanding of
the stresses and difficult position we are in.
29 November 2000