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  Chapter 7   Chapter 8   Chapter 9   Chapter 10   Chapter 11   Chapter 12
  Chapter 13   Chapter 14   Chapter 15   Chapter 16   Chapter 17   Chapter 18

These pages are extended most days. Over the coming months they will
build into a history of why the National Pig Association was founded

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BPISG charters
'Pig Express' for
London March

Yorkshire Post
January 1999

A 600-seat Pig Express train leaves York on Saturday at about 8.45am. The train is fully booked but march organisers are trying to get extra carriages. Coaches are also being organised.

Travel coordinators are: Yorkshire — J. Rowbottom, 01759 318XXX; Lincolnshire — M. Ward and S. Mapplethorpe, 01673 818XXX and 01673 842XXX; North-east — C. Snowball, 01325 378XXX; North-west — Sally, 01995 606XXX.

* Webmaster's note: Mastermind and chief organiser of the Piggy Express? Meryl Ward.

NPA history

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.


Producers target meat-and-bonemeal imports

January 1999

"Consumers were warned yesterday they are buying imported meat from animals reared on products which are banned in Britain.

"Meat-and-bonemeal is still finding its way into the human food chain in Britain through imported pigmeat.

"Pig farmers will lead a march to Downing Street on Saturday to demand the complete removal of all meat-and-bonemeal meats from restaurants and supermarkets.

"British meat has been free of meat-and-bonemeal for two years following the BSE crisis of 1996 but the practice of feeding
it to pigs continues at farms on the Continent, says the British Pig Industry Support Group."

Yorkshire Post article



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New cars
mean nowt

There were moments of humour, even in those desperate days. I recall John Craven interviewing us at Driffield Showground in advance of the London March. We left him in no doubt... producers were leaving the industry in droves, and those who remained were teetering on the brink.

When the filming was over we trooped outside, where Craven looked at the assembled vehicles with a wild surmise. The Countryfile Land-Rover Discovery was old and battle-scarred. In contrast, there was Rowbottom's flash Range Rover, Scott's Jeep Cherokee, Houston's Vauxhall Senator and Walton's Mercedes... all less than six months old.

What he didn't know — and we didn't tell him — was that at least three of these vehicles had been painfully and embarrassingly refinanced, with huge balloons due in three years. — Digby Scott.



'I'm a big believer in direct action'

Press report

Pig producers converged on the opening of a new Tesco store, at Brigg, North Lincolnshire, in an effort to persuade the company to stock all its shelves with only pigmeat conforming to strict United Kingdom food safeguards and animal welfare legislation.

The demonstration was led by local pork producer Malcolm Baxter, a former mayor of Winterton, who said: "Over the past 13 months the total losses on my pig unit are well in excess of £100,000 and I am continuing to make a loss of £3,000 a week. I am a big believer in direct action and this is now becoming ever more necessary."

A Tesco spokesman said he was "puzzled" as to how the misconception by farmers had come about, as the store sourced 100 percent of its fresh pork from United Kingdom farms, as well as all the meat for its fresh sausages.


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More about the London March
in chapter 5 >

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Memo from BPISG to
this Labour Government:
THANKS FOR NOTHING

Pig support group spokesman Digby Scott said yesterday: "The Government continues to talk about supporting the pig industry, but at the end of the day the support it is giving is zero.

"It is even continuing to allow imported pigmeat to be fed in its own Departments. This compares extremely badly with the help pig producers in the United States are receiving from their government.

"Pig farmers in the States are facing a slump in prices because of oversupply on the world market but the United States Department of Agriculture has made available one billion dollars to guarantee operating loans.

"This acts as an incentive to bankers to help farmers through this difficult time. It is an indication that the United States government has a clear will to help its farmers by doing something which is quick and effective."

Yorkshire Post
January 1999

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LONDON MARCH
January 23, 1999

And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap.

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You're letting your customers down

Report by: Robert Benson, Yorkshire Post

"Pig farmers have every right to demand that retailers acknowledge the superiority of the British product and stock only British pork, bacon, hams and gammon, pork pies, sausages and processed products," said Lincolnshire farmer Meryl Ward.

"The message is clear to all retailers. Listen to your customers and clear your shelves of inferior foreign imports. Your customers trust you to put safe and ethically-produced meat on your shelves. You are letting them down."

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We're pulling down our savings
and pensions, just to keep going

Report by: Robert Benson, Yorkshire Post

Pig support group chairman Stewart Houston, who farms near Ripon, told the crowd that pig farmers had now sunk to the "bottom of the trough", with family businesses built up over many years being destroyed.

"Pig farmers are drawing out savings and pensions just to keep going. We have every sympathy with our fellow farmers in Europe, but it is a competitive world and the argument we have is on the side of the angels.

"From January 1 we have met the United Kingdom regulations on welfare required by our consumers. Our competitors have been aware of the position as long as we have and we unashamedly seek a marketing advantage.

"It is of no use relying on the sympathy of the retailers and caterers. They must be made to understand that if their set requirements are met they should honour them and if the only way to do it is with demonstrations like today, then we will have to be prepared to do
it."

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We're going to stop this
bloodletting by supermarkets
from our British industries
and our local communities

Report by: Robert Benson, Yorkshire Post

Angry pig industry leaders made their strongest attack yet on the supermarkets they claim are crippling them, warning: "Play fair with us or we shall step up the war and close you down."

The warning came in a fiery speech by British Pig Industry Support Group spokesman Digby Scott — one of a number of speakers to address the crowd of around 4,000 angry pig farmers in Trafalgar Square at the climax of the hour-long march.

From a ledge at the foot of Nelson's Column overlooking a sea of pig farmers, Mr Scott said: "We have an army here that can accomplish anything if it wants to, if it puts its mind to it.

"Take a good look at us Mr Blair. You know your own Government departments are still serving up cheap foreign meat from farms where they still feed meat-and-bonemeal and keep sows in stalls.

"Take a good look at us Mr Supermarket. Take a good look at us Mr Caterer. Because we aren't going to away."

Mr Scott warned that farmers' feelings were running dangerously high, because they had nothing to lose any more.

"The supermarkets have taken it all from us. Fight back? You bet we're going to fight back. And with this army here we can close you down — distribution depot by distribution depot. We can do it peacefully and we can do it legally.

"We're tired of your stories and our patience is very nearly at an end. You say there isn't enough British pigmeat. What you mean is there isn't enough at the paltry prices you're prepared to pay."

Farmers, he said, wanted to hear the supermarkets genuinely supporting British because it was the best in the world and because it kept jobs going in Britain.

To loud applause, he added: "If needs be we'll join forces with all the other people, the thousands and thousands of decent people in other industries, other walks of life whose lives the supermarkets are also blighting.

"And we'll force you to have a radical rethink of your business — from top to bottom. You won't like it but we're going to stop the bloodletting from our British industries and our local communities."

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We're here to tell you about
the crisis in our industry

Report by: Robert Benson, Yorkshire Post

Yorkshire leader of BPISG John Rowbottom, of Melbourne, near York, said: "We want the Government to know that there is a serious crisis in our industry and they must do something about it. British supermarkets should stock more British products so that the general public can buy it and keep our industry in business."

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