Notes prepared by Andrew Leeder on behalf
of NPA, in response to the evidence supplied by RT Hon Joyce Quin
MP to The Agriculture Committee on 11 December 2000
NPA welcomes the Minister's confirmation that
the Government aims to ensure that the UK response to European
rules is broadly of the same magnitude and level as that of other
Many of the instances the Minister apparently
refers to, are ones where a Member State Scheme, although legal,
fails to comply with the criteria for EC co-funding. Such situations
have no direct effect on the farmer since all that happens is
that their government recovers a smaller proportion of what it
paid farmers from the EC than it anticipated.
The Minister is correct in saying that in farming
there are disease risks of animals and plants. She is probably
also aware that a common precaution is to vaccinate the animals
or spray the crops. However, she seems to have overlooked the
fact that in the case of Swine Fever that action would be illegal
as a result of the ban on vaccination in the UK and other countries
where the authorities have declared swine fever to be non-existent.
It is rather misleading to say that the original
Scheme had industry agreement since the industry was still seeking
Although reported as "a new scheme"
in an animal health context the "Pig Welfare Disposal Scheme"
was actually rather similar to the "Pig Welfare Compensation
Scheme" relating to the Ballymoney abattoir disaster in Northern
We cannot find details of instances where the
Commission has prevented the Netherlands from paying compensation,
nor can we find the details of the "different Community rules"
which the Minister states come into effect depending upon the
size of the outbreak. Perhaps the Minister would share this information
with the Committee and the NPA?
We can however find several instances where,
not only has approval been granted for smaller national market
support schemes for pigs, but also a contribution has been made
from EC funds towards the cost of them.
About 191,000 pigs were submitted onto the UK
scheme in 2000. Belgium, which has a similar pig population, took
only 35,126 pigs on their scheme for zone locked pigs in 1997,
even though the EC agreed to co-fund a somewhat greater number
if necessary. The agreement for this Belgium scheme was given
prior to the confirmation of any clinical CSF in the country,
and reflects the assumption that a major outbreak could occur.
Similar measures were available in Germany in 1997 and re-opened
in 1998 when swine fever reappeared. Even combining the numbers
from both instances gives a total of only 172,493, which is smaller
than in the UK, despite their pig population being more than three
times the size of ours. EC Regulations have also been passed in
earlier outbreaks relating to smaller numbers of pigs.
Such measures were introduced at a time when
only a relatively small number of pigs was anticipatedfor
example the German scheme was re-opened at a time when it was
anticipated that only 15,000 piglets would need to go onto it.
The larger Dutch and Spanish schemes were the result of amending
the original regulations 15 and 18 times respectively.
Germany regularly has uncompensated isolated
outbreaks in areas where CSF is endemic in wild boar populations
but these are generally only short in duration and arguably this
is a risk which could have been foreseen and commercial insurance
is available for protection.
The Minister's use of current market price to
assess the impact of pigs under restriction and unable to enter
the market, is an inappropriate measure of the need for Exceptional
Market Support when it is proposed as a result of measures which
threaten serious future disturbance of the market upon
the release of a backlog of pigs onto the market. The UK market
for heavy pigs is small and fragile at best. If the pigs had been
retained on farm (in the absence of the Welfare of Livestock Regulations
1994) their release upon de-restriction would have seriously overloaded
In response to the Minister's rebuttal here,
the East Anglian Pig Advisers Association have sent us details
of the Pigmeat Management Committee meetings during 1998 (see
Annex A). We cannot fault their analysis and there seems to be
no doubt that in 1997 and 1998 this Government's representatives
did vote in favour of schemes providing full market value compensation
for the disposal of pigs locked in surveillance and protection
zones. As far as UK outbreaks are concerned, Government policy
did not have to previously handle the issue of pigmeat from herds
under restriction in surveillance areas being banned from the
food chain, except where heat treatment took place.
We are interested to note the Minister's observation
that as this is an Animal Health matter, which she will not be
fully informed on. The fundamental principle of the Animal Health
Act is that the Minister pays full compensation for any healthy
thing seized, caused to be slaughtered, or ordered to be destroyed,
buried or disposed of, which in our view includes Disposal Scheme
In the light of the confirmation by MAFF in
their Memorandum M14 that the Disposal Scheme, although conceived
originally purely as a welfare management measure, was subsequently
redesigned into one for reducing the risk of spread of disease
as the outbreak developed, we invite the Minister to comment.
In the light of the discovery of:
(i) the existence of schemes, both smaller
and larger than the UK one, offering full value compensation for
healthy pigs locked in surveillance and protection zones on the
(ii) this Government's apparent support for
them at the time; and
(iii) the Minister's commitment to ensure
treatment of equal magnitude and level for UK pig farmers.
We invite the Committee to consider whether
it is appropriate for them to recommend to the Minister that the
Pig Welfare Disposal Scheme be amended to provide retrospective
compensation at full market value at Government's expense.
1. Further commitment at Q.73/74, not only
to ensure the application of European rules in other Member States
but also where the rules permit a response of varying degree to
ensure that the UK response is broadly of the same magnitude and
level as that of other Member States. Unless corrected by the
Minister this general statement may be useful for the future and
confirms that what Nick Brown said regarding equal treatment for
Swine Fever at the start of the outbreak is still in effect.
2. Contrary to previous assertions that
Animal Health Act compensation was not designed for dealing with
the removal of pigs locked in zones, confirmation at Q.110 and
M14-21 that removal of such pigs is an animal health measure (and
therefore ought properly to be dealt with under the Animal Health
3. Rebuttal is required that the Government's
use of market price is not an appropriate measure of the need
for Exceptional Market Support when it is proposed as a result
of measures which threaten serious future disturbance of the market.
Also remember that the heavy pig market, which is the main one
being protected, is smaller in the UK in relation to our pig population
than it is on the continent.
4. Rebuttal is required of the Government's
argument that "different Community rules" apply to small
and large outbreaks (unless they can prove references to the relevant
EC documents) and a statement that this outbreak was somewhat
larger than measures which have been supported elsewhere.
5. Rebuttal is required of the Ministers
suggestion that UK was not in favour of market-value compensation
for zone-locked pigs in 199-98. Clearly at least in the case of
continental farmers it was. Observation that the principle
of UK law was that any healthy thing seized, destroyed or ordered/caused
to be so to prevent the spread of disease is compensated in full
would also reinforce Point 1.
MAFF AND INDUSTRY
1. Lack of adequate instruction of staff.
2. Inadequate records of pig keepers.
3. Outdated documentation.
4. Inadequate systems for communication both
internally and externally.
5. Imposing restrictions which went beyond
legal requirements without giving any justification for doing
so (other than in some cases blaming them on non-existent requirements
of regulations), thereby causing mistrust.
6. Muddled procedures particularly re Forms
A and B.