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  1. 4,996 Posts.
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    07 January 2005
    Study 'no surprise' say farmers

    City farming experts have published reports that shed light on why so many pig farmers are struggling to bring home the bacon.

    Despite lower-than-ever feed prices and an escalating price paid for pork, the United Kingdom pig industry shrank by more than a third in the past six years.

    Many farmers were making a loss on their produce, with profits as little as 2p per kilo.

    Now reports published by Exeter University's Centre for Rural Research have identified high production costs as one reason for the industry's decline.

    Andrew Sheppard, the author of the studies called the Pig Sector in England and Wales 2001-2003 and Pig Production 2002-2003, said too much of the selling price for pork was being countered by spiralling costs.

    The studies were compiled after interviews with 450 pig farmers in England and Wales.

    He said: "The selling price of pigs really isn't high enough to cover the cost of production and to provide capital for future investment.

    "Many producers we surveyed who were not losing money were still not making profits sufficient to invest for the future.

    "Some have had to avoid making repairs and renewals necessary for them to continue in the longer term, and others are running down their pig units in anticipation of giving up."

    Devon farmers said the reports' findings did not come as a surprise.

    Peter Greig, of Pipers farm, near Broadclyst, said: "I think the problem will get progressively worse. Small pig farmers are always going to struggle to compete with farmers in other parts of the world."

    He said one reason for the decline was farmers' inability to produce in accordance with demand.

    "I think British farming has lost sight of the marketplace," he said. "Farmers have been producing without a view to what customers want."

    Andrew Freemantle, of Kenniford Farm, Ottery St Mary, said: "The decline identified in the report is happening.

    "As years go by our costs increase, and it gets harder to compete with the farming industries in other countries.

    "Many pig farmers are giving up because they cannot carry on making little or no profit," he added.

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