Scots not happy with pig package

Scottish farming leaders have expressed reservations about the £1m pig package announced by the Scottish government last week.

NFU Scotland (NFUS) says that the package - a mix of funding to look at the marketing and labelling of pigmeat, and for future projects - largely ignores the recommendations of the Scottish Pig Sector Task Force.

The task force, whose report was also published today, was set up by cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead to consider actions to ensure a long-term sustainable future for the pig sector.

NFUS representatives met with Lochhead to discuss the pig announcement, while visiting the Black Isle Show, held near Muir of Ord.

Speaking after that meeting, NFUS president Jim McLaren said it was "a critical time" for the Scottish pig industry.

"Profitability on pig farms remains perilously low. There is a significant financial overhang on Scottish pig producers, because of FMD restrictions last year, and we have seen the Dutch-based company Vion complete the buyout of Scotland's largest pig owner and processor Grampian Country Foods," he said

"On the face of it, any £1m package for the Scottish pig sector is something we should be welcoming unreservedly.

"However, the devil is in the detail. The £200,000 allocated to marketing is money previously included in the Autumn 2007 FMD package, the work on labelling has already been included in the National Food programme and a sizeable chunk amounting to £700,000 has yet to be allocated.

"We now need to sit down with the Scottish government, industry representatives and key players such as Vion to discuss how that £700,000 should be spent."

McLaren added that the task force put in significant effort in producing its report, and said it was regrettable that the Scottish government ignored some of its key recommendations, which revolved around delivering financial support directly to pig producers.

There are only 40,000 breeding sows left in Scotland, the lowest number for 25 years.

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