NPA slams MLC levy holiday ban

The National Pig Association is to challenge the Meat and Livestock Commission refusal to suspend the £1.05p levy English pig producers are obliged to pay on every slaughtered pig.

The levy-holiday was proposed by pig producers to partially offset ruinous production costs. It would have saved pig producers almost £2m over three months.

As a result of global increases in pig feed, producers' costs have increased 30% almost overnight and many face ruin. In an NPA survey, over 90% of pig producers said they would quit within 12 months if the price they receive for their pigs does not increase significantly.

"This decision by the MLC commissioners is crass. It goes against the democratic rights of levy-papers," said Yorkshire pig producer Richard Lister, who is chairman of National Pig Association's elected Producer Group.

Stewart Houston CBE, the pig industry's Defra-appointed commissioner on MLC, was in favour of the levy-holiday. He is now considering his position, as are three other producers who represent the pig industry for the Meat and Livestock Commission and who are equally appalled by the commissioners' decision.

The levy-holiday was proposed by the British Pig Executive, the executive committee of the Meat and Livestock Commission that looks after the interests of pig producers.

"At BPEX's request, the Meat and Livestock Commission agreed to consult the pig industry on a three-month levy holiday, which would save pig producers around £2m in levies - but even though there was overwhelming approval for a levy-holiday, the commissioners have now refused to allow it," said Lister.

"The MLC commissioners should have the pig industry's best interests at heart but their decision to forbid a levy-holiday for pig producers indicates that they may know less about the current pressures on the industry than Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, all of which have taken measures to help the industry."

Meat and Livestock Commission commissioners representing the England, Wales and Scotland sheep and beef sectors are opposed to pig producers in England having a levy-holiday. They fear that if the levy were suspended for pig producers, then sheep producers would demand similar treatment.

An emergency meeting of the British Pig Executive is to be held on Wednesday evening, December 5.

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