Memorandum submitted by Mr Fred Henley
I am a small scale pig farmer achieving above
average physical performance with my pigs. For what it is worth
my views on the pig industry are:
(1) The pig industry is decimated and will
never recover completely. I shall continue for now as profits
have returned but only until I have repaid my debts. I have done
all the work without missing a single day for over three years.
I envisage being able to quit in a year's time. My son no longer
wishes to farm!
(2) The restructuring scheme is not worth
the paper it is written on and could not have been more complicated.
I believe it was only introduced as a delaying tactic solely to
keep pig farmers quiet. A simple scheme could have paid much more
as administration costs would have been much lower.
(3) Swine Fever is a notifiable disease
and as such it is the Government's total responsibility to fully
compensate all farmers affected by it. Instead pig farmers are
to be forced to contribute to its eradication. Why do we still
import pig meat from countries with endemic swine fever? As soon
as we had an outbreak our exports were banned by some countries.
Malton Foods suffered in this way.
(4) Other causes of the pig industry's problems
include Government ignorance and intransigence, the strong pound,
the higher welfare costs, the higher feed costs and the stranglehold
of large retailers on the small farmers. The Government firstly
denied a crisis, then listened and did nothing, and finally will
go down in history as the destroyer of pig farmers and perhaps
all of British agriculture. Arable farmers have been compensated
for the strong pound but there is nothing for pigs. The retailers
are arrogant and devious. As long as it is cheap to them that's
all that matters though they must have been convinced British
is best as they try to pass imports off as British if they can.
Only last week in my local big store the counter heading was "British
Bacon" but only about 20 per cent was. The rest was in similar
packs, easily mistaken.
I could go on but I expect you will take little
notice of a small farmer fed up with working all the time for
next to nothing. I never believed when I decided to farm that
one day even the efficient could not make a living by producing
food. I have even felt it necessary to take part in demonstrations
and protests, something I never believed I would ever do.
23 November 2000