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mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2009, 07:50:29 AM »
Saturday, February 14, 2009Print This Page
Prices Surge Ahead
UK - Friday the 13th has certainly proved to be a lucky rather than an unlucky day for pig sellers, writes Peter Crichton in his Traffic Lights commentary.




Spot quotes today continue to move sharply higher and in horseracing terms the field was greatly helped by a couple of pacemakers which meant that others in the race had to get their whips out to keep up.

As a result although some spot bacon buyers were hoping to buy at circa 140p, earlier mid-week phone calls had indicated that the market was unlikely to move ahead by much more than this.

Most spot bacon sellers were able to achieve a minimum price of 143p on wide spec contracts and as the day wore on prices 2–4p ahead of this were available, although in some cases these were tied to a generally tighter weight/grade spec.

Rumours were also circulating that one or two shrewd sellers might have agreed deals at circa 150p, but this proved to be exception rather than the rule.

A feature of the trade is that “a one price pig” seems to be the order of the day with some processors also prepared to move up their weight ranges. This was confirmed by Woodheads going up from 85kg to 90kg and attracting a growing share of the market with positive buying tactics from their new Spalding abattoir, which is conveniently situated almost midway between East Anglia and Yorkshire.

A glance across the Channel however reveals a somewhat different picture with many European Union mainland producers either breaking even or making a loss, whereas United Kingdom sellers are continuing to benefit from a strong euro and the Jamie Oliver effect.

For this reason imports remain a threat and will become more so if the £ gains in value.

But when compared with deadweight lamb quotes of circa 370p/kg and beef over 280p/kg, pork is still a very good value alternative at the meat counter.

The DAPP which took another upward step this week now stands at 134.97p and is also expected to make significant upward progress in the weeks ahead reflecting much better spot prices with lower proportion of contract pigs being included in the sample.

Cull sow quotes have now started to edge ahead after several weeks of falling prices and have been helped by something of a recovery in the value of the euro, which on Friday closed at circa 89p.

Export sow abattoirs remain very short of throughput and because of this were generally tendering improved prices in the 116–118p range according to load size and specification.

The weaner market has always provided an early indicator of what lies ahead and further reports of shrinking numbers due to a mixture of infertility problems last summer/autumn, the recent cold snap and further reductions in the size of the United Kingdom herd, have all conspired to continue to tighten weaner supplies.

The AHDB 30kg weaner average of £46.90/head is still lagging behind recent trades and the £50 weaner has now become a reality.

On a more serious note swine dysentery is once again rearing its ugly head (or backside) on some East Anglian units.

Any producers who are not members of the East of England Swine Dysentery Producer Charter should sign up and they will then know where the outbreaks are and be able to tighten up on their bio-security, livestock haulage and carcass collection arrangements, all of which can spread this deadly bug.

So to avoid to saying “bloody hell” one morning, pig producers should check their pigs and if they have any suspicions (however remote) that their units are affected, get the vet in to have a closer look.

Abattoirs could also help to break the link between pigs and haulage by improving their lorry washes and moving away from the garden hose and watering can era by upgrading their washes to very high pressure systems and plenty of disinfectant.

Bowes of Norfolk are one on the best in this respect, but in school report terms many others “could do better”. Unless livestock trucks are biologically clean there is probably no way in which further infections can be avoided.



mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2009, 02:45:30 AM »
Tuesday, February 17, 2009Print This Page
NFU AGM REPORT - Agriculture Must Produce More
UK - The UK agriculture industry has to start producing more while at the same time taking care of the environment.

 

National Farmers' Union president, speaking to the annual meeting and conference said that agriculture in the UK is already making as large contribution to the country's income.

"Last year Britain's GDP fell by 1.8 per cent. By contrast, total income from farming rose by 36 per cent and our contribution to GDP increased by 38 per cent," he said.

"We are in a new era when we must produce more and at the same time impact on the environment less. That is the new agenda for farming."

He said he wanted to see British farming put back into the centre of the economy during 2009 "not just neglected on the margins."

"Farming needs to be seen as part of a much bigger economic fabric," Mr Kendall said.

"It lies at the centre of a rural economy that turns over £300 billion a year and employs 5.5 million people.

"It is part of the food industry that in manufacturing terms far outweighs such traditional industries as steel, shipbuilding or cars.

"Taken as a whole the food chain is an impressive and vital part of the country's economy, contributing £80 billion, employing 3.6 million people and exporting a record £13 billion of goods in 2008."






mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2009, 12:09:01 PM »
Saturday, February 21, 2009Print This Page
There'll be More Good Days Like This, Euro Willing
UK - Another good day for sellers although prices tended to be closer to stand on than push on and in horse racing terms some of yesterday’s front runners tended to be back on the bridle today with the result that it was quite hard to reel in the odd 150p quotes that were rumored to have been made and most spot based bacon prices tended to be in the 146p region with some variations according to region and specification, writes Peter Crichton in this week's Traffic Lights commentary.




But later in the day a few of these front runners came back into the fray.

The DAPP also helped to improve contract price returns and now stands at 136.4p, but a DAPP plus 4p bid remains some 5p–8p adrift of the spot market, although the gap may be closing slightly.

Many large scale buyers and sellers are watching the currency markets like hawks as these may well dictate any further price movements in the week ahead and although the € looked as though it was losing value early on this week, it closed on Friday worth circa 88p.

As a result cull sow quotes remained at generally stand on levels with 114p widely quoted as base price and modest premiums available for larger loads.

The weaner market continues to reflect a major shortage of progeny pigs in the system following on from a combination of summer infertility and the numbers of sows that were slaughtered early in 2008, which are no longer part of the production chain.

Further evidence to back this up has been provided by reports of much longer gaps between emptying and filling contract rearing and finishing units and for the first time for many years there is more space available in this sector. Unless pig numbers recover, some of the poorer performing contract sites may have to be closed down.

The wide gap between the spot and contract finisher prices is also being reflected in the weaner market and although this week’s AHDB 30kg ex farm weaner price of £48/head has jumped up by £1.10, spot quotes well ahead of £50/head are now being reported with circa £55 being achieved in some regions.

Provided that finished pig returns do not flop in 12 week’s time, even though weaners look eye wateringly dear, if they stay healthy and grow well a reasonable margin can be earned and probably better than when weaners cost £35/head, but baconers only came to £80/head.


mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2009, 04:22:39 AM »
Tuesday, February 24, 2009Print This Page
Dramatic Rise in Pork Exports Compared to 2008
UK - Pork exports have shown a dramatic rise over the last year according to new figures from BPEX.


Exports of fresh and frozen pork have risen by 20 per cent over the year, up nearly 20,000 tonnes to 118,300. Bacon exports also showed a big jump, going from 12,000 tones to more than 33,000 tonnes.

Offals showed an 18 percent rise hitting 19,000 tonnes with nearly 40 per cent of that going to the Netherlands and almost 30 per cent to Hong Kong.

The value figures are even more impressive with fresh and frozen pork up 42 per cent, worth an extra £33m while the value of offals is up 63 per cent, worth almost £3.5m more.

In total, exports of pork, processed pork products and offals were worth £160m to the British industry.

"Exports are vital to the industry which is why BPEX is keen to expand the number of markets into which we sell. They have a very important role in adding value to both producers and processors,:" said BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan.

"These impressive figures show that although sow carcase exports increased, the biggest rise was recorded for prime pork cuts. This is particularly encouraging following the restrictions put in place during the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2007.

"It also demonstrates the value of the export recovery programme conducted by Defra and BPEX in early 2008. It is particularly true for pork offal which was an important element of the programme.

"With the value of sterling more competitive compared with the euro and other currencies, we hope to see further growth in exports in 2009."





mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2009, 08:42:08 AM »
Saturday, February 28, 2009Print This Page
A Pause for Breath
UK - Since the start of the year the DAPP has gone up from 131.23p to 138.05p, but like people of a certain age there is a need to pause for breath after such a long climb from the ground floor to the bedroom, according to Peter Crichton in this week's Traffic Lights commentary.



This is probably no bad thing as signs are emerging that the widening gap between United Kingdom and European Union pigmeat prices was encouraging yet more imports to head this way with some importers claiming that they could now buy the foreign equivalent at up to 15p/kg cheaper than its British counterpart.


Despite the wonderful benefits of the Jamie Oliver programme and support by some of the upmarket retailers for United Kingdom pork, the lower end of the market remains much more price sensitive and easily tempted by cheap imports.

Spot quotes on Friday tended to range 143–148p according to specification with one or two reports of slightly higher prices for cutters and light bacon, but generally a “one price pig” seems to be a feature of the trade.

The strength (or otherwise) of the euro will continue to dominate the fortunes of British pig producers and this week the euro ended almost exactly where it started worth 88.8p.

With the stockmarket still in retreat owing due to ongoing disarray in the financial and banking sector where the bonus and pension schemes seem to be working in reverse, pig producer’s are hoping that confidence in sterling will remain low, favouring the euro.

Cull sow prices this week remained at almost universal stand-on levels with a minimum of 116p payable in most regions, but premiums still available for larger loads with throughputs reported to be well below capacity.

Sharply rising weaner prices also appear to have levelled with the AHDB 30kg ex-farm average now quoted at £48.99/head, but several deals are breaching the £50/head mark.

A look back to this time last year however reveals that feed wheat which is now trading at £102.50/tonne ex-farm was valued at £181/tonne twelve months ago when the DAPP was 111.75p and spot pigs were worth £110… so some clouds have a silver lining.


mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2009, 02:57:04 AM »
UK/EU Pig Statistics - January 2009
This article provides an overview of the latest statistics relating to pigs in the UK and Europe and includes slaughter figures, carcass weights, pig meat production and trade. The information is extracted from the data published as spreadsheets by Defra.

 

Highlights
All data given by Defra for the current period is provisional.
UK slaughterings of clean pigs in 2008 stood at 9,193,300, 0.9 per cent below the figure for 2007.
Slaughterings of sows and boars in the UK in 2008 totalled 235,100, 12 per cent more than the previous year.
Figures for EU slaughterings are available only to the end of September 2008. In that month. 21.085 million pigs were slaughtered across all 27 EU countries.
The average killed and dressed pig carcass weight in the UK in 2008 was 76.6 kg. This continues a gradual upward trend: in 1987, the average weight was 62.2 kg, while it stood at 76.2 kg in 2007.
The average for sows and boars was 151.3 kg, almost the same as last year.
Total pig meat production in the UK in December 2008 was 55,000 tonnes, of which 45,000 tonnes was pork and 10,000 tonnes of bacon. In the same month in 2007, volumes were 58,000, 47,000 and 11,000 tonnes, respectively.
The UK's home-cured bacon and ham production in the fourth quarter of 2008 totalled 49,000 tonnes. Of this total, 28,000 tonnes (58 per cent) was from pigs killed in the UK, and 20,000 tonnes from imported pig meat. These figures bring the total production for 2008 to 184,000 tonnes, of which 108,000 tonnes (58.7 per cent) was from UK pigs.
The UK imported 27,500 tonnes of pork in September 2008, the latest month for which the figures are reported. Of the total, the great majority (26,700 tonnes) came from other EU countries and just 800 tonnes for elsewhere. In the same month, 10,500 tonnes of pork was exported – 7,800 to the EU and 2,600 tonnes to other countries. For bacon and ham, all UK trade was with other EU countries, with 24,900 tonnes being imported and 4,400 tonnes exported during the month.
The surveys of pig populations in the European Union – which take place in all countries in November and December – have not yet been published.
 


February 2009

mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2009, 01:41:38 AM »
Wednesday, March 04, 2009Print This Page
NADIS Veterinary Report & Forecast - February 2009
UK - This is a monthly report from the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS), looking at the data collected from their UK farm inspections.

 

National figures over a number of years have shown that the average piglet mortality levels in all pig herds are in the region of 11 – 12 per cent of all pigs born alive.

NADIS figures for 2007 from selected herds reported upon by NADIS veterinary surgeons dipped below this level through the summer and autumn before rising in the winter. However, in 2008 losses were fractionally higher (Graph 1).


More interestingly following collection of 2 year’s data, is the apparent 2 phase cycle of losses within the year. The most distinct trough occurs in the summer months with a noticeable peak in the spring. Furthermore there is a suggestion of a further trough in winter preceded by another small peak. If these patterns are genuine and repeatable, it may suggest that the more variable temperatures typically experienced in spring and autumn have an hitherto unrecognised adverse effect within farrowing areas. Interestingly, the perception in outdoor herds, which make up approximately 25 per cent of this data, has historically tended to suggest higher losses in summer (litter desertion) and winter (hypothermia).


Breakdown data indicates higher losses in breeder-weaner farms than in all other types of unit (Graph 2) but this cannot be accounted for by herd size given that larger herds tend towards lower mortality (Graph 3) – breeder-weaner and breeding only farms will tend to be larger.


Between system, variation is small with very little differences measured between mortality rates recorded indoors and outdoors or between batches and continuous flow systems. The latter might suggest that the benefit of being able to concentrate staff attention during the farrowing period in batch systems is offset by the higher work load (Graph 4).


There is however a marked numerical difference in mortality rates recorded between herds farrowing on slats against those farrowing on straw, with the latter experiencing more than 20 per cent higher losses than slats. Again, if this is a genuine and repeatable observation it raises serious questions marks over the perceived benefits of straw based systems in farrowing areas. Given that outdoor herds will all be straw based, this observation suggests serious problems in straw based indoor systems.

Regional data (Graph 5) shows very little difference in losses recorded between the 2 main pig keeping areas of NE England and East Anglia (The high mortality levels recorded in S & SW England must be viewed with caution as herd numbers are low.) Previous observations have linked straw and slat differences (e.g. in health) with regional favouring of one or other system. This is clearly not the case with respect to piglet mortality.


As a final note, pre-weaning scour prevalence in 2008 appears to follow roughly the pattern of mortality (i.e. lower in summer with peaks in spring and late autumn) which is not necessarily surprising. However, a sharp rise in scour at the end of 2007/8 was surprisingly not reflected in an increased mortality.





mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2009, 01:04:54 AM »
Thursday, March 05, 2009Print This Page
More Imports in the Months to Come?
UK - Producers took the brunt of the cost-price squeeze in 2007 and this year it will be the processors' turn, predicts NPA chairman Stewart Houston.


"In fact it has already started," Mr Houston said yesterday, "And it signals problems for producers because it could mean more imports in the months ahead."

The problem, he said, is that some retailers are starting to use their disproprotionate buying clout to put unreasonable pressure on processors to hold down prices.

"This is bad news for processors because it puts them in an awkward position, and of course it is potentially bad news for us," he said. "Who would have thought that this year we may have to start doing battle on behalf of the middle link in the chain?"





mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2009, 04:29:35 AM »
Friday, March 06, 2009Print This Page
Farm Survey Shows Need for Urgent Action
SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish government’s farm survey figures show a decline across every main sector in Scotland and must serve as a wake-up call to politicians and the supply chain on the shrinkage taking place amongst the nation’s primary producers and the likely ramifications for the Scottish food industry, says NFU Scotland.


"The decline is rectifiable and we are working on a number of policy areas which, if given political and supply chain support, could turn around Scottish farming’s fortunes," says NFU Scotland.

When comparing December 2008 figures with those of a year earlier, all parts of the livestock sector show further significant reductions in the numbers of stock being kept. The results also reveal the effect of last year’s dreadful weather on the cereals sector with the area planted in winter crops cut dramatically.

Compared with December 2007:

Cattle numbers are down by 2.7 per cent
Pig numbers are down by 15 per cent
Poultry numbers are down by 3.5 per cent
Area of wheat sown is down by 22.4 per cent
Area of winter barley sown is down by 9.5 per cent
Area of winter oilseed rape sown is down by 11.7 per cent
The Scottish agricultural workforce fell by 4.6 per cent
NFU Scotland president, Jim McLaren, said that there are undoubtedly specific problems in certain sectors, notably with upland and hill livestock, dairying and pig farming and NFU Scotland is pursuing policies with the Scottish and Westminster governments to address them.

"Scotland’s ambitions for its food and drink sector are dependent on a sustainable supply chain, with fair rewards for all. It is in the hands of processors and retailers to provide the proper incentives to Scotland's food producers to continue producing. The need for a Supermarket ombudsman has never been greater and the mechanism to help deliver that is in the gift of Westminster," Mr McLaren said.



mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2009, 12:46:35 AM »
Tuesday, March 10, 2009Print This Page
Alternatives to the Farrowing Crate?
UK - Which way for farrowing crates? A possible peep into the future was provided for pig producers by an independent Swiss pig adviser, Thomas Zanotelli, at a packed meeting of the Suffolk Pig Discussion Group, sponsored by Quality Equipment.





Michael Mattmüller (left) of Quality Equipment with independent pig adviser, Thomas Zanotelli, at the Suffolk Pig Discussion Group.Following the ban on sow stalls in the UK, increasing attention is now being focused on the use of farrowing crates. Switzerland’s small, but efficient, pig industry has to comply with some of the tightest welfare regulations in Europe and employs a range of ‘freedom’ farrowing systems, designed to protect piglets without confining the sow.

Giving the event a distinctly international flavour, Mr Zanotelli, who speaks little English explained through Quality Equipment’s Michael Mattmüller, who acted as interpreter, that Switzerland has a national pig herd of 1,634,800 with 150,000 sows. There are 11,200 farms with pigs so these are mainly small herds on family farms.

Feed is expensive because the government protects Swiss production with heavy subsidies, and this includes levies on imports. So finisher diets cost about £322 per tonne. Pigs are finished at around 102 kg liveweight and fetch £190-£200. All farms have to comply with strict welfare codes, but there are premiums of up to £15 per pig produced on farms that are especially welfare friendly, to encourage such systems. These are paid by the supermarkets which entitles them to use a special label.

Many different designs were shown, some incorporating — as well as straw bedding — unusual features, such as rough, ridged walls against which the sow can lean to lower herself down gently to avoid flopping on her piglets. Vertical bars incorporated at an angle into the walls of other pens also served a similar purpose, while horizontal rails — similar to ‘farrowing rails’ seen on UK farms in the 1960s and 1970s — were employed to provide safety areas for piglets.

One design provided three separate temperature areas to suit both sows and piglets and many relied heavily on boxed-in, well-insulated and heated creep areas to encourage piglets away from the sow, and the danger of overlying, when not suckling.

Mr Zanotelli pointed out that simply relying on heat lamps meant that the weakest pigs were left to die in the coldest areas, but an even temperature can be maintained with boxed designs, especially those having curtains, which allow piglets to poke their head through for fresh air.

Switzerland has to import meat to satisfy local demand, but unlike ambiguous packaging in Britain, there are strict labelling regulations. The Swiss mark is only allowed on packaging if the animal from which the meat comes, has actually been produced in Switzerland with its strict welfare codes

mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2009, 07:03:58 AM »
Thursday, March 12, 2009Print This Page
New Piglet Product Prevents Coccidiosis
UK - The first UK licensed coccidiocide for the prevention of coccidiosis in piglets has seen its UK launch this week.



Baycox is a ready-to-use oral suspension containing the active ingredient toltrazuril, which is already licensed in different presentations for use against the disease in poultry and dairy calves. Baycox 50mg/ml is given as a single oral dose to piglets.

Isospora suis is the main coccidial pathogen in piglets and the most common cause of pre-weaning scours. Clinical coccidiosis manifests as watery, yellow/cream coloured scour between 10 and 21 days of age. Piglets may also appear depressed, anorexic and develop rough coats.

Typically, mortality is low – around 5 per cent, but morbidity is high – around 70 per cent. Coccidial infection also predisposes piglets to secondary enteric infections such as E.coli or rotavirus, which can increase pre-weaning mortality rates by up to 30 per cent. The legacy of coccidiosis is retarded growth before and after weaning and uneven bodyweights within litters.

According to Bayer Animal Health, the company behind the product, performance improvements through administering a single dose of Baycox metaphylactically have been demonstrated on farms with a history of coccidiosis. In one study, Baycox-treated piglets had gained approximately 20 per cent more weight than the control group at 25 days of age.

The company says that Baycox kills all intracellular developmental stages of I.suis without impairing the piglet’s ability to develop immunity.



mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2009, 06:31:09 AM »
Thursday, March 19, 2009Print This Page
New Focus for Pig Meat Supply Chain
UK - Pig farmers, meat processors, retailers, and the Government have agreed to work on areas of common concern for the benefit of consumers and the industry itself.

 

The seventeen members of the new Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, set up to identify the biggest challenges faced by the industry and suggest solutions, met for the first time yesterday.

The group is working to improve the resilience of the supply chain through:

investigating how a standardised code of practice for clearer labelling could be introduced;
improving pig herd health;
examining how to increase the amount of produce reared to higher British welfare standards bought through Public Sector procurement; and
addressing the regulatory burden on the supply chain.
Farming Minister Jane Kennedy said, "It’s fitting that the Task Force should meet for the first time during Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week."

Ms Kennedy said she's extremely encouraged by the fact that all sections of the supply chain – from producers to retailers – want to get round the table and see what improvements can be made.

"I want the group to improve things for consumers and the supply chain by delivering on issues like clearer labelling, better pig health, and greater public sector procurement of higher welfare products. The industry needs action and results," added Ms Kennedy.

The Task Force comprises:

Jane Kennedy, Minister for Farming and the Environment (Chair);
Stewart Houston, Chairman of the National Pig Association (NPA);
Barney Kay, NPA General Manager;
Richard Lister, producer and Chairman of the NPA Producer Group;
Mick Sloyan, Chief Executive of BPEX;
John Hughes of Tulip;
Bill Thurston of Vion;
Adrian Dowling of Bowes of Norfolk;
Bernard Hoggarth of Cranswick;
Simon Galkoff of Whitbread;
Nick Scrase from ASDA;
Simon Twigger from Sainsbury’s;
Colin Holmes from Tesco;
Andrew Thornber from Morrisons;
Jan Anderson of Yorkshire Forward;
Trisha Henton from the Environment Agency;
Susan Knox representing consumer bodies; and
Ian Platt of Baxter Storey.
The Task Force will carry out its work over the next 12 months. There will then be a review to determine whether it should continue.


mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2009, 06:29:51 AM »
Contract Sellers Will be Tempted to Send Fewer Pigs
UK - There was something of a gap opening up between the haves and have nots as far as buyers were concerned, writes Peter Crichton.




For those prepared to go the extra mile and get all the pigs they needed, bids tended to be in 155p+ range, whereas contract buyers tended to be operating at a slightly lower level and were not pushing particularly hard for extra spot pigs realising that they were not there in the first place.

With the DAPP continuing to improve and now standing at 142.8p, contract pigs appear much better value compared with spot at the buying end, but producers will be tempted to send only minimum contract numbers and play the spot market with the remainder.

Demand for lighter pigs from the smaller fresh meat wholesalers also met with very little variation in quotes between the different weight ranges.

British abattoirs are still facing a chronic shortage of live pig availability which is the price being paid for last summer’s infertility and further reductions in the size of the national pig herd.

Unfortunately this is forcing some of the larger retailers and pigmeat users to look abroad, but providing the euro stays firm at current levels closing worth circa 93p on Friday, the cost of foreign imports will continue to be well supported.

In mainland Europe pigmeat prices have remained relatively static, although some European Union countries are showing slight improvements as the holiday season approaches. The viability of the British pig industry remains in the hands of the currency speculators and any signs of a sharp drop in the value of the euro will be bad news for the pig business as a whole.

European manufacturing pigmeat values provide a ready barometer of the health of the industry as a whole and cull sow quotes have remained at generally firm but unspectacular levels with United Kingdom export abattoirs generally offering prices in the 120–124p range, but prepared to lift these for larger loads and to secure shrinking numbers.

As previously, the weaner market continues to surge ahead with the AHDB 30kg ex-farm average now quoted at £51.41/head, but in many cases significant premiums are available above this with reports of northern buyers particularly short of stock prepared to bid over £55/head and more in some cases.

One of the regrettable downsides to the recent spell of high weaner prices is the rising number of pig thefts that are occurring throughout many parts of the country, the most recent and blatant of which was a loss of almost 500 weaners circa 11-12kg from Rob Mercer’s outdoor rearing site near the M42 toll road north of Birmingham.

This goes well beyond a few pigs being carried away in a sack by some migrant workers, but is a highly organised theft on a large scale which must involve hauliers/pig producers as well. If you have any clues on who may be responsible please ring Rob Mercer on 07970 174984 or “Pignickers” at Crimestoppers.

Final reminder for Peter Crichton’s last scheduled auction (for the time being) of pig equipment by direction of W T Pointer and Son at Manor Farm, Sculthorpe near Fakenham.


mikey

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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2009, 06:31:25 AM »
Monday, March 30, 2009Print This Page
Farm Unions Slam Meat Inspection Charge Proposals
UK - British farming unions have branded the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) proposals for a nine per cent rise in meat inspection charges at abattoirs as inappropriate, ill-judged and unaffordable to the meat and livestock sector.



The union comments come in its response to an FSA consultation on proposed changes to the charges for official meat controls carried out in Scottish abattoirs and due to come into force from 29 June 2009.

The preferred option put forward by the FSA is to increase meat inspection charges in June this year by a massive 9 per cent. The lowest cost option proposed by the FSA would still see charges increase by 4 per cent.

The unions said the proposals were developed in a different economic climate and the increased charges were based on an inflation figure that is now vastly inaccurate.

In addition, retailer pressure on the meat sector to provide low cost products during this time of recession, coupled with the still high costs of primary production, places processors in an impossible situation where increases simply are not affordable. Even the lowest proposed increase of four per cent could have a severe impact on the viability of meat plants and the production chain as a whole with the FSA’s ‘preferred’ option of nine per cent being totally unrealistic, the unions said.

Alistair Mackintosh, chairman of the NFU livestock board, believes there should even be a reduction in charging levels throughout the meat supply chain with all unnecessary costs driven out.

He said: "I realise that the official meat controls provide assurances that slaughterhouses, meat cutting plants and game handling establishments produce meat for human consumption that is safe and that animal health and welfare requirements at slaughter are met. We’re fully supportive of the need to protect public health. But there is absolutely no justification for any increase especially in the current economic climate.

"The NFU does agree with the introduction of time-based charging but we don’t want to see any abattoirs, particularly those that are low throughput and in remote areas of the country, experience unnecessary cost burdens. We also believe that there should be a joint Government and industry effort to change EU regulation to remove, where appropriate, the level of official controls needed by external inspection bodies within red meat plants.

"Many of the elements of meat hygiene are for the benefit of the public and it should be within their interest to contribute to the end cost of producing this hygienic and safe meat. This should then be reflected in the tax payer contribution to these controls and not therefore removing the need to force the producers into paying for any additional charges."

NFU Scotland’s Vice-President, Nigel Miller said that Scotland’s abattoirs have been under pressure for a long time, with many plants ceasing trading over the years as a result of increased regulation and costs of compliance. During the current financial downturn plants are more vulnerable than ever.

"There is a need to preserve our remaining abattoir base and, therefore, support the Scottish Government’s own ambitions for a successful food sector. This will require the deferral of such swingeing charges," Mr Miller said.

"That makes this consultation entirely inappropriate at this time. The proposed increases to charges were developed in a totally different economic climate and this consultation should have been withdrawn by the FSA Board and reconsidered in the light of recent economic developments and the need to preserve a healthy livestock production base and meat processing sector," added Mr Miller.

He said the proposed charging increases, first put forward in 2008, now appear ill-judged and are simply not affordable for the industry. To push ahead with this proposal risks further damaging the important but shrinking meat processing sector in Scotland. "It will have a negative impact on Scotland’s livestock farmers as costs inevitably get passed down the chain and will ultimately impact on the wider Scottish economy," said Mr Miller.

"The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), as operated by the FSA, is currently undergoing a restructuring process and, whilst we recognise that significant savings have already been achieved, there is still a long way to go. Until the MHS has been fully transformed and can be considered efficient, effective and value for money it seems inappropriate for the FSA to consider transferring these costs in full onto industry," he said.

"Whilst the livestock industry recognises the need for meat hygiene controls to protect public health and provide consumer confidence in meat products, these controls should be based on proportionate risk assessments and up to date scientific evidence to show their necessity. Where there is no evidence to show any risk, or where the risk is so small to be almost negligible then it seems unreasonable for the FSA to expect meat industry to bear the full cost of theoretical or minimal risks to human health," concluded Mr Miller.


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Re: England U.K. Hog News:
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2009, 02:23:15 AM »
Tuesday, March 31, 2009Print This Page
Plans for Independent Animal Health Body
UK - Decisions about how to handle animal diseases would move to an independent body under proposals announced for consultation by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

 

Mr Benn said the proposals would see a new independent board established to make decisions about animal health policy and delivery, made up of members with knowledge, experience and skills in the livestock industry, animal health science and welfare and relevant public health, consumer and wildlife issues.

In a disease outbreak, key decisions such as movement controls will be made by the Chair and Chief Executive of the new organisation, on the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer.

Mr Benn said: "Livestock owners are worst affected by disease outbreaks, and they also benefit from disease control, where their livestock might otherwise become infected.

"It's right that they should be more involved in making decisions about how we prevent and handle those diseases, and contribute to the costs of collective action to tackle disease threats.

"This new way of tackling animal disease, which builds on how Government and the industry have worked together to deal with bluetongue, will mean that everyon's investment in disease control is more effectively and efficiently used. We should see a reduction in the total levels and costs of these diseases."

The plans will help to reduce the risks and costs of animal disease, improve confidence in animal health policies, and ensure the livestock keepers who benefit from animal disease control measures share the costs of those measures with taxpayers.

The new body will be responsible for dealing with exotic disease outbreaks such as bluetongue, policy on endemic diseases such as bovine TB, advising on the payment rates for animals culled as part of disease control and controlling animal diseases which pose a threat to public health.

The new body would be largely publicly funded, with a levy on livestock keepers contributing to the costs of surveillance and preparedness for exotic disease outbreaks. Views are also being sought on compulsory insurance for livestock keepers to contribute to the cost of dealing with exotic disease outbreaks.

The proposals are in line with recommendations made by Sir Iain Anderson after his inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that those who gain from the eradication of these disease should help to pay the costs of doing so.

The new body would have three main sources of funding: public funding, fees and charges for services provided, and income from a new levy paid by livestock farmers, according to the type and number of animals they keep.

The Government currently spends £400 million each year on animal health and welfare, which increases substantially when there are disease outbreaks such as avian influenza.

The cost to the farming industry is also considerable, but currently the industry has no decision-making powers over these policies and does not contribute directly to the cost of co-ordinating disease control.

Under today’s proposals, these costs would be shared between different types of livestock keeping businesses and between the beneficiaries of the successful reduction of risks and costs – particularly between taxpayers and livestock keepers, taking account of affordability.

The consultation responds to calls from the livestock industry to change the way the Government makes decisions about animal health policy.

The new framework will build on the strengths of the current system including the effective protection of public health, the developing partnership working with industry, the veterinary and scientific expertise of Defra and its agencies, and the delivery capability of Animal Health.

However, the news has hit a raw note with Britain's farmers.

National Farmers' Union President Peter Kendall said: "I am furious that Defra is still trying to get farmers to contribute to their costs when the department doesn't have a good enough handle on its own costs. It wants us to pay for exotic disease but we don’t think they do enough to keep these diseases out of the country.

"I have little confidence in Defra’s effective and efficient management of the current Animal Health Budget and the recent NAO report backs our view. It was very critical of Defra and said that its current procedures could not deliver a 'fair and equitable cost sharing scheme'. We have to remember that the costs we are being asked to cover relate to diseases that are not in this country and I do not think Defra treats the incursion of these diseases very seriously at all and nowhere near as seriously as other governments in places like the US, Australia and New Zealand.

"On top of this we have the 2007 FMD outbreak which clearly came from a Government licensed premises. I find it incredible that ministers can suggest that, in future, livestock farmers should pay half of the Government costs for an incident like this. The failure at these premises cost the livestock sector over £100 million which the industry itself had to cover and they now have the gall to suggest that we should pay 50 per cent of their costs (est. £40 million) as well.

"Farmers will be dismayed by these proposals and they have little confidence in Defra on animal health issues. We have bovine TB reaching epidemic proportions in some parts of the country, wiping out more than 30,000 cattle last year alone, and costing the industry millions. Meanwhile, Defra pins all its hopes on a vaccine which, while being a tool in the box for TB eradication, will never do the job on its own and all the while our farming families wait in despair."

The consultation also proposes that a new independent body for animal health should be established.

Mr Kendall added: "I believe that a new independent body for animal health could deliver a more proportionate and effective animal health policy. However, it must be a genuine partnership between livestock farmers and the Government and must have real powers and be able to deal with the European Commission on animal health issues.

"Under the joint Government and industry governance I believe that an independent body should deliver better value for money for the tax payer and for livestock farmers. Furthermore, it should enhance the position of the wider industry, food retailers and food manufacturers, who all benefit from keeping this country free from animal disease."


 

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