Remember the helping hand for pig farmers? No, me neither

How easy it is to make a mistake. I glanced through the Yorkshire Post and saw the headline ‘May to guarantee support for farms’.

I was ecstatic, we were really going to be important and expansion came to mind. Yet, when I looked again, it said firms, not farms!

I was on a high for all of two minutes, but should not have been surprised.

The pig industry is used to standing on its own trotters. I do have a faint recollection that in the dim and distant past, there was some sort of financial scheme for pigs, not very big and not for very long.

Had it been worthwhile, even I, with my addled brain, would have remembered what it was.

All I do remember is that French farmers were able to abuse it and did not, so far as I know, actually pay back what they had been given on a temporary basis.
Agriculture is hugely important to France and the French farmers do get away with things we would be fined for. I don’t blame them one bit; but imagine the consequences if we went to spread manure down Whitehall… Need I say more?

Another thing I am sure of is that in every agricultural office, department or government office in France, you would find French food. Wouldn’t it be a great move if we could persuade our Government to do the same here with British food instead of buying the cheapest?

Towards the end of August, wheat prices rose to £20 above last year’s prices. That was a relief and there was talk of prices hitting £128 for November and more than £130 for January. That sounded quite encouraging and then for no apparent reason, the price dropped to £118 for November.

How can you manage a business like that, even though it is good news for the pig men? Subsequently it climbed to £125 for November, so anyone who panicked in the meantime and sold forward at that low price will have missed out again. Quite rightly, the public thinks we are all crackers. We plant crops without the faintest notion of what we might get for them. How many people go to work without knowing exactly what they are going to be paid? Certainly not the politicians!

Russia is always of interest. From having a relatively small pig industry, it now has a very efficient, growing industry (thanks to European genetics and consultancy).

Russian multi-sites are losing popularity for a couple of reasons: health being one, transport costs another. They are finding that farrow-to-finish is cheaper to build and I don’t suppose that Russian farms are as suitable for bed and breakfast as they are here.

Yes, they are still short of pigmeat so are being paid a fair price, making around US$70 profit per pig, despite importing from Brazil, because of the European embargo in both directions.

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About The Author

Sam Walton is a Yorkshire farmer and former pig producer, and the founding editor of Pig World.