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Scotland requires minimum 45,000 sow herd

A strategic review of Scotland's pig industry has reported that a herd size of 45,000 sows is the minimum level required if the sector is to have a profitable and sustainable future.

Downward trend
Sow numbers in Scotland are currently around the 38,500 mark and on a downward trend. The industry has been badly affected by rapid global increases in grain prices and the residual impact of trading restraints from the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in England last year.

The wide ranging report has been coordinated by red meat promotion and development body Quality Meat Scotland as part of a series of initiatives commissioned and funded by the Scottish Government to support Scottish red meat businesses.

Twelve recommendations have been made aimed at creating a sustainable and market orientated industry in Scotland, including:

• Public funding for Task Force initiatives that can help the pig sector withstand short term challenges and achieve longer term profitability
• Include the pig sector in existing knowledge transfer initiatives such as the Monitor Farm network
• Increased public funding to support new product and market development by the processing sector
• Increased grant aid to help the industry meet rising costs for stringent regulatory controls such as NVZs prescriptions

Stark message
QMS Chairman Donald Biggar said: “The report sends out a stark message that a bare minimum of 45,000 sows is what's required if Scotland is to have any chance of retaining a meaningful pig industry. To spell out the size of the challenge, sow numbers are currently under 40,000 and continuing to drop.

“Five key areas have been addressed in the review - economics, processing facilities, health status, environment and farm performance. Twelve steps have been identified to help stem the decline and get the industry back on a better financial footing.”

Difficult situation
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment said: "The Scottish Government is very aware of the difficult situation faced by the pig sector.  We are actively working with the industry, including major new player Vion, to decide how to use most effectively the unallocated £700,000 from the package of support I announced for the pig sector last month.

“This Government-funded report will be an important contribution to those ongoing discussions and, along with other actions taken by us, will help deliver sustainable, economic growth in the industry for years to come.”

A copy of the full report is available on the QMS website at www.qmscotland.co.uk

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Quality Meat Scotland

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