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24 April 2008

STEVENSON CONFIDENT GOVERNMENT TASK FORCE WILL FIND SOLUTIONS TO NORTH EAST’S PIG FARMERS CONCERNS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson today applauded the urgent task force put together by the SNP Government to examine the problems facing Scottish pig farmers.

The task force has been formed as a matter of urgency to consider possible actions to assist the pig sector in light of concerns raised by local farmers that the sector has been in sharp decline. Factors behind this decline have been rising feed costs, lower quality of imported pork as well as a lack of compensation for costs incurred due to the foot and mouth outbreak.

Speaking on the pig farming crisis Mr Stevenson said:

"The difficulties facing our pig farmers is one that needs urgent appraisal to proceed with effective targeted action and this is what the task force aims to achieve. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Mr Lochhead has been working closely with stakeholders representing all parts of the supply chain on the difficulties faced by the pig sector and is looking at all avenues in which to reverse decline in the industry.

"There has also been several meetings with industry representatives and action with regards lobbying both the UK and European Parliaments on the part they can play in assisting the industry. We are acutely aware that the main worry for Banff and Buchan’s pig farmers has been the rising cost of grain which has almost doubled in the past year and lower standard of pork from the continent creating unfair competition.

"There are a number of avenues the Scottish Government is looking at under this taskforce including a vaccination programme for pig wasting disease, more transparency and improved labelling of imported pork, the resurrection of the ‘ongoers’ scheme offering subsidized loans for producers and government insistence on procuring only Scottish produce in their contracts.

"The problems faced by the Banff and Buchan pig farming industry is an issue of urgent concern for the Scottish government and I am confident this task force will find real solutions to what are pressing concerns.

Stewart Stevenson
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