The Scottish government has pledged a £1 million package of support to help the country's pig producers.
The package includes an immediate £200,000 to improve the marketing of pigmeat products to consumers, to be drawn from resources already earmarked for the red meat sector following foot and mouth last year In line with a number of the Pig Sector Task Force's recommendations, another £100,000 to begin research into labelling and work to improve animal health
Finally £700,000 for future projects to be allocated in partnership with the industry, allowing the impact of new industry player Vion to be fully taken into account.
The package for the pig industry in Scotland follows the recent report of the Pig Sector Task Force report which was published today and the imminent publication of the Strategic Review of the Pig Industry commissioned by the Scottish Government.
Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment said: "We are pledging £1 million to fund projects that will improve marketing, productivity and pig health to help achieve long-term sustainability for this vital sector.
"Our pig industry has been through very tough times recently with rising feed costs that came on top of last year's foot and mouth restrictions. With the arrival of Vion, a new chapter lies ahead for the pig industry and we are keen to help equip pig producers for the new challenges and opportunities."
He added: "This package is the first of its kind in Scotland for the pig sector and demonstrates the Scottish Government's confidence in a sector that produces a top quality product and meets the highest welfare standards.
"It follows a range of other measures already taken by this Government to support our pig farmers. Although higher prices and lower feed costs are helping to reduce pressure on the industry, challenges remain. These have been clearly set out by the Pig Sector Task Force in its report published today.
"Just as the report looks ahead, my priority is to direct available resources strategically to projects that invest for the future. Further details of how the £1 million we are commiting to the industry will be allocated will be taken in the weeks and months ahead in partnership with the industry which will also be able to decide how to take forward those Task Force recommendations that look to the future."
Lochhead also mentioned that the takeover of Grampian Country Foods by meat processing company Vion has dramatically changed the shape of the pig industry. He said Vion has a clear commitment to the industry's future but the company is still developing its strategic thinking.
"I am confident that today's announcement, together with our future actions, will benefit producers, processors, retailers and consumers and deliver sustainable, economic growth in the industry for years to come. I want an industry which is not only efficient and productive but world-renowned for its quality," he continued.