Select Committee on Agriculture Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Fred Henley (M 4)

  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

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