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These pages are extended most days. Over the coming months they
build into a history of why the National Pig Association was founded
|Click each image for a high-resolution view of the full article|
NPA was formed as the British pig industry's single voice in a turbulent era of market failure, rampant disease, retailer duplicity, political infamy and a dysfunctional levy-board. It has proved hugely successful, in most respects, at changing the landscape.
Angry pig farmers joined blockades staged across the country in protests to highlight the worsening plight of the industry.
Police moved protesters on from peaceful demonstrations outside supermarket distribution depots in Merseyside, Cambridgeshire and Somerset early yesterday morning.
The blockades, organised by the British Pig Industry Support Group, which accuses supermarkets of selling foreign meat labelled as British, prevented lorries going in or out.
Richard Longthorp, a pig farmer in Howden, East Yorkshire, joined about 50 farmers who blocked the Somerfield regional distribution centre in St Helens, Merseyside, for about five hours until 2am yesterday.
He said: "It was a very peaceful demonstration, with farmers' wives and girlfriends there. We moved voluntarily because we were told in no uncertain terms that we would be moved by riot police."
More farmers staged a blockade outside a Somerfield depot in Somerset. Organisers claimed 300 farmers and their families took part, but Avon and Somerset Police put the number at about 100.
A further 30 pig farmers protested outside the Somerfield supermarket in Cambridgeshire.
The British Pig Industry Support Group said the demonstrations were part of ongoing efforts highlighting claims supermarkets sometimes passed off meat as British when it in fact originated abroad.
Winie-the-Pig at Yorkshire Show
Labour Party Conference, Bournemouth, September 1999.
High Court approves BPISG's application for fast-track judicial review
Yorkshire Post report
Pig farmers fighting to save their businesses are to haul agriculture minister Nick Brown before a judicial review to prove the Government has illegally discriminated against their industry.
An application by British Pig Industry Support Group lawyers has been granted by the High Court on a "fast track" basis. The matter could now be resolved within weeks, rather than months.
The pig industry has been in financial crisis for the past two years and says it requires aid to deal with continuing losses incurred as a result of the BSE crisis; even though pigs were-never involved in the scare.
Pig farmers are pressing for an emergency aid package to compensate the industry for the £270m it has had to spend as a knock-on effect of the disease.
The European Commission has already recognised that the BSE crisis is an "exceptional occurrence", justifying state aid which has been granted to the beef and sheep industries on that basis.
BPISG, formed in 1998 to campaign against Government discrimination against the British pig industry, also points out that other countries, such as Belgium, have supported their producers with state aid and yet none has been forthcoming from the United Kingdom Government
As highlighted by the Yorkshire Post Save Our Farmers Campaign the situation has been aggravated by supermarkets and caterers purchasing cheap imported pigmeat from the continent.
The High Court decision was yesterday welcomed by BPISG chairman,
Lonely-heart stunt highlights plight of
Yorkshire Post, July 1999
Some people had deeper pockets, but everyone's in debt now
"We decided to start fattening our pigs for bacon, but by the time the first ones were coming up for sale the price had almost totally collapsed. For a four-month period at the end of 1998, bacon pigs which had cost £63 to produce were selling for £30. We lost something like £100,000 in four months.
"Since then, we've lumbered from one crisis to another. We kept returning to the bank for more funds, expecting that prices would improve, but we've reached the end of the road. With no working capital left, we had no option but to call in the receiver.
"We invested £330,000 over four years to meet new welfare standards, including the loose-housing of sows, and since then seen a rising tide of cheap imports produced under methods illegal in Britain.
"We were convinced that the way to survive was to embrace the move to higher welfare standards, traceability and assurance schemes demanded by the supermarkets. We even invested more money than we needed to.
"But as soon as the work was done, as soon as they realised they could buy pigmeat much cheaper from the continent, they left us in the lurch. It's really a question of your personal circumstances as to how long you can hold on. We had nothing but pigs, no other resources to call on. Some people had deeper pockets, but everyone's in debt now."
— Producer, 800-sow unit, South Cave near Hull.
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