Memorandum submitted by Mr Robert Persey
What size will the British pig industry be in
20 years time?
Which thinking young person is going to choose
the pig industry as a career?
Who is going to commit capital to new buildings?
(many of the present buildings were built 1960-80 when grants
were availablethese are approaching the end of their life)
Who wants to pay to work seven days a week?
(Apart from agriculture, nobody does).
The cumulative effect of many factors, some
listed below, have overloaded the pig industry with debt, destroyed
morale and reduced the volumes over which to spread industry overheads.
It is inevitable that the downward spiral will increase in speed,
with imports, especially from Eastern Europe, replacing the British
product. The industry has probably passed the point of no return
to viability although the exact timing of the passing of that
point can only be determined with hindsight.
Cumulative factors that have worked together to
create this downward spiral
BSE and swine fever in Europe encouraged over
production which led to low prices.
Strong pound/weak Euro allows Europeans to undercut
Unilateral imposition of higher welfare codes
in UK put the UK producers at a disadvantage.
BSE tax of £5.26 is unique to UK producers.
Weak labelling regulations allows low welfare
imports fed on cheap meat and bonemeal to masquerade as British.
European producers get help by back door, low
interest rates and grants, eg French farmers can build a slurry
store and get grant for an irrigation lagoon.
Swine Fever surveillance zones (see Annex).
The British pig industry is expected to carry much of the cost;
name another country where that would have happened?
IPPCwill the Minister of Agriculture
give an undertaking that the UK costs of implementation will not
be any greater than Spain, Italy or Greece? Will they be imposed
on the mega units being funded by the USA and being built in Eastern
Europe? If the Minister is brave enough to give such an undertaking,
what mechanism has he in mind to verify our European competitors?
Having lost a large slice of British pig industry,
the last thing that we need is a payment to remove another slice.
Fewer pigs mean fewer abattoirs, less investment, less competitiveness,
fewer feed mills, less competition, fewer livestock hauliers,
fewer vets, less promotional levy and less funding for the MLC.
The British pig industry will soon lose its critical mass and
will be irrelevant in the market place.
The Danes and the Dutch are taking advantage
of their dominant position in the UK bacon market and are engaging
in predatory pricing which is contrary to Sections 81 and 82 of
the European Treaty. Will the Government raise this issue with
DGV1 in Brussels?
Does the UK Government want an intensive
livestock industry in this country?
Does it regard the countryside as
the lungs of the cities with pig and poultry meat better imported
than produced at home?
Is the balance of payments relevant?
Is the surplus of grain, produced
in the UK with no outlet, relevant?
Is the welfare and the production
standards of the food that we eat relevant?
Does this country want to control
the food that it eats or is it happy to eat anything?
I think that this Select Committee is too late,
the damage has gone too far. If Britain wants to eat pig meat
and poultry it will have to be imported from abroad and we shall
have to shut our eyes and hope.