Memorandum submitted by the East Anglian
Pig Advisers Association (M 12)
The East Anglian Pig Advisers Association (EAPAA)
is a trade-only association of over 100 individuals representing
firms large and small, such as pig Breeding Companies, Veterinarians,
Feed Suppliers, Building/Equipment Manufacturers, Animal Health/Pharmaceutical
Companies, Banks, Pig Marketing Services, Advisory Services, Abattoirs
and Meat Packers and others serving pig farmers in East Anglia.
It is difficult to comment since this scheme
seems not yet to be in existenceother than the rather obvious
questionwhy has the scheme not yet been introduced?
At a recent EAPAA committee meeting concern
was expressed about the consequences of Swine Fever on the viability
of pig farmers in East Anglia, the jobs of their farm workers,
and potentially also the sustainability of members businesses
supplying those farms.
In common with the whole industry we had all
had serious reservations about the Pig Welfare Disposal Scheme
as originally announced on 29 August 2000. Not only had it appeared
to fall short of the Ministers legal and moral obligations and
seemed certain to lead to farmer bankruptcies with serious consequences
for unsecured trade creditors, but it had also failed to achieve
the urgent objective of halting and reversing the build up of
pigs on farms.
The Agriculture Committee will be aware that
lateral spread of swine fever was likely (and did indeed occur)
and will no doubt appreciate that an increase in the number of
pigs in the "catchment area" as a result of an encouragement
to keep more pigs (possibly in less than ideal temporary outdoor
accommodation) for longer than is usual would increase the chance
of spreading the disease rather than preventing it.
Although support was expressed for the actions
of the National Pig Association and others in seeking to improve
the scheme, in the context in which that was being done, there
was concern that several aspects of government policy towards
this outbreak had not been adequately explained and required clarification
1. In 1997 and 1998 the policy of this government
was to support full market value compensation for the disposal
of pigs locked in surveillance and protection zones.
That is beyond dispute since the UK voted at
Pigmeat Management Committee meetings in favour of the introduction
and increased allocations for such measures 18 times in 1998 alone
and also many times in 1997. If that was not policy at the time
delegates would seem to have been in serious dereliction of duty
by voting in that manner.
That this need not have changed was confirmed
by the European Court of Auditors Special Report No 1/2000 and
the Commissions replies to it, and Robert Sturdy MEP who was told
by a senior European Commission Official on 30 August 2000 that
"the ministry can offer a compensation scheme paying up to
full market value for pigs in the surveillance areas".
Having supported such measures which were co-funded
by the EC at a cost to the 1997, 1998 and 1999 budgets of about
ECU 650 million (a cost the UK, net of "Fontainebleau rebate",
of around £20 million) why is it now the policy of the government
that full compensation is inappropriate?
2. In 1999 the policy of this Government
was that restrictions such as these were not a normal business
That is beyond dispute because the European
Commission states that Official correspondence from the UK Authorities
on 23 February 1999 said "We do not accept that the sudden
total inability of a producer to sell a product in his usual market
at any price, owing to circumstances unrelated to the market situation,
and without any change in levels of consumer demand, coupled with
the almost total inability to transport this product for sale
at any price in other markets, due to restrictions on animal movements,
can be considered to fall within the normal parameters of entrepreneurial
Why was the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food's official response (MAFF 219/00) after meeting industry
representatives that "this is a normal business risk"?
3. Parliament provided the Minister of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food with a mechanism for disposing of pigs from
That is the Animal Health Act 1981. Schedule
3.4(1) permits the Minister to "if he thinks fit, in any
case cause to be slaughtered any swine . . . which appear to the
Minister to have been in any way exposed to the infection of swine-fever.
Sections 17 and 18 confirm that the Minister's declaration of
an "infected area" is "conclusive evidence"
of the latter point for the purpose of the regulations.
Why did the Minister invent an alternative mechanism
which was apparently not enacted under any Act of Parliament?
Was his motive to deliberately evade the compensation
provided for by Schedule 3.4(2) of the Act which states that for
animals which are as yet not affected (but which may or
may not have been infected) that "compensation shall be the
value of the animal"?
4. Many farmers and agricultural businesses
have suffered real financial loss as a consequence of restrictions
imposed because of outbreaks which:
could not have been foreseensince
the UK should have been a safe haven from the disease having been
officially declared to be "Swine Fever Free" (unlike
parts of Germany for instance) and has strong geographic borders
to protect that status;
resulted from a failure in border
controlsMAFF scientists have concluded that the source
of the outbreak was illegal importation of pigmeat which they
now say they know does occur;
could not have been protected againstsince
vaccination against swine fever is illegal in the UK because that
is unnecessary in a Swine Fever Free Territory and use of the
older ("non-marker") vaccines interferes with laboratory
surveillance for swine fever;
the deficiency in disposal scheme
payments in terms of price and timescale when compared to market
value, which are particularly severe in the case of producers
of organic pigs or breeding stock, also an ongoing cost to the
industry in the form of a levy to pay for part of those and no
recognition of the reduced efficiency in taking pigs to higher
than usual weights until they could be disposed;
unrecoverable overhead costs, including
labour, when farms have been left empty (or only partly full)
because of restrictions (or shortage of funds due to the extended
timescale of disposal scheme payments);
loss of markets, not only export
markets, but also farmers outside of restricted area who in some
cases have been cut off from their contracted customer of weaner
pigs or breeding animals, and have had to sell pigs elsewhere
at a lower price;
precautionary restrictions for example
where carcases in abattoirs and feed on confirmed or suspect farm
have been impounded until past their "best before" dates
while MAFF verified that they were indeed safe; and
knock-on effects for a wide range
of businesses servicing pig farms.
The Minister's official response is that compensation
measures weren't designed to cover these. That conveys no information
at alla house brick certainly was not designed to be thrown
through a window, however that doesn't prevent it being eminently
suitable for that purpose. He has told industry representatives
verbally that he has no legal liability to pay any compensation
at all, but has been shy about putting that in print, or justifying
What advice has Ministry solicitors given to
the Ministerhave they told him unequivocally that he is
not liable to pay anything if he does not wish to?
In the absence of an adequate explanation of
these points the Minister is in danger of leaving a lasting impression
after this outbreak is over that he would prefer pigs to be farmed
outside of the UK.
Whether or not the Minister is of the opinion
he should ultimately fund all or part of the disposal scheme monies,
in view of the greater amount of financial support which this
Government gave to continental pig farmers restricted because
of swine fever and the present desperate state of farm incomes
we believe that the very least which he can do now is to allocate
sufficient funds to the Intervention Board to enable them to pay
the remaining disposal scheme monies now, before Christmas 2000,
and allow them to be repaid to the IB in due course by the new
PIDS or whatever.
4 December 2000