Memorandum submitted by Mr Rod Tuck (M
My colleague and I have been involved in the
Animal Feed Industry since we left school, some 37 years ago;
in total we have 74 years' experience.
Over that time we have seen numerous changes,
from a fragmented industry of some 71,000 pig units totalling
700,000 sows across the UK, to today with some 14,000 units housing
some 600,000. Until recently the only major change has been that
this number of sows are now owned by fewer people. Within that
number we have seen herd sizes increase tenfold with 40 per cent
of the new population now in outside units with 80 per cent of
the pork produced coming from 20 per cent of the Producers.
More recently we have seen the total sow population
decline more quickly and if not redressed could reduce pig numbers
below the critical mass level needed to sustain a viable industry
within this country.
Why and what has accelerated this change?
(a) The changing of the animal welfare laws
in this country, without ensuring that our major overseas competitors
did likewise, thus making us uncompetitive at the supermarket
(b) By inadequate food labelling laws, which
does not allow the UK producer to be able to justify to the consumer
the animal welfare reasons and food safety regulations, which
make UK pork more expensive. The Swiss Government insists their
packaging states, "this product was produced in systems that
are illegal in Switzerland" giving the consumer the choice.
(c) Allows foreign carcasses to enter the
UK and be processed and then the product leaves the plants stamped
as a UK product confusing the consumer to thinking that all meat
from all other countries is produced to the same high standards
as in the UK.
(d) By pursuing an energy policy that again
was out of balance with our overseas competitors has made us less
competitive. It costs at least 2p/kg more to process a carcass
in this country, due to higher energy costs, plus approximately
3p/kg extra to deliver the final article to the consumer.
(e) The over zealous interpretation of European
Laws by Civil Servants and MAFF: I cite just two examples, there
are many more:
in the meat inspection area where
the meat inspection cost is standard to every plant rather than
in European where the charge is based on headage through the plant,
the European system does not penalise the smaller abattoir or
the offal disposal levy, vet/meat
inspection charges, extra feed charges due to meat and bone legislation
which comes to a total recognised cost of £5.26 per pig imposed
on every pig slaughtered since BSE problems began which none of
our EU and overseas competitors have, puts the UK pig industry
at a considerable financial disadvantage. When you consider BSE
had nothing to do with the pig or pig industry, why do we as an
industry get disadvantaged?
The changes that have taken place in the UK
pig industry over the last decade have been so great, that this
last outbreak of CSF has really highlighted how out of touch and
out of date both Government legislation and MAFF are. The laws
both of the EU and the UK are not compatible with modern UK pig-keeping
methods. The financial burden that has been placed on the UK pig
producer and the supply industry to obey the laws of this land
and Europe have been intolerable and have pushed people's patience
and financial burdens beyond the bounds of reason. If there is
another notifiable disease outbreak in this country we doubt if
any livestock farmers will co-operate to the extent that they
have done this time.
In our humble opinion as suppliers of Baby Pig
Feeds predominately in East Anglia, thus suffering a virtual cash
flow standstill which is damaging our business, the Government
and MAFF have made some far-reaching decisions that have permanently
damaged the UK Pig Industry and supply industries.
The bad decisions were:
(a) every pig within a 3km radius of an outbreak
should have been slaughtered and destroyed immediately, including
pet pigs who should not be allowed to survive in a 3km or 1km
killing zone. The Dutch found this out in their last outbreak,
we did not learn from their experience;
(b) the legislation regarding pet pigs is
very lax and should be reviewed, an easy solution would be to
include them in the Dangerous Animal Act. This would ensure proper
licensing and housing;
(c) all hot contacts should have been slaughtered
and destroyed immediately. Again a lesson learned in Holland;
(d) full market value should have been paid
to all pigs killed in the surveillance areas. This would have
encouraged people to get the pigs killed and off farms rather
than increase disease risk by keeping them;
(e) all feed and straw should be destroyed
on affected farms and fully compensated for;
(f) the Meat Derogation Scheme should be
in place ready to click into action at anytime in the future.
This would have helped to maintain livestock values in the market
place and got pigs off farms;
(g) a full consequential loss payment scheme
should be in place for all businesses affected by notifiable diseases;
(h) all wild pigs in the UK that are running
wild should be culled for public health and safety reasons.
The present system has relied on the pig farmers,
the banks and the supply trade to finance and stand the financial
losses because of UK and EU Government legislation and interpretation
of the rules. Everyone has been paid in full except the farmers
within the surveillance zones and their suppliers, which cannot
encourage citizens to be law-abiding in the future.
There is seemingly a total disregard in Whitehall
for the need to safeguard safe food production in this country
with people feeling that both the Government and MAFF want to
export UK food production.