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Pigs

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the (a) costs and (b) benefits of maintaining the ban on raising pigs on swill. (295475)

No formal assessment has been made. However, at the time when the ban was introduced in 2001, around 70 swill processors lost trade and around 90 swill feeders had to find alternative sources of feed. Restaurants, kitchens and factories producing food also had to find alternative disposal routes. These bodies have subsequently adapted to the new rules and so a cost comparison between then and now would be difficult to make.

The benefits of maintaining the ban remain primarily the prevention of disease spread. As the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak demonstrated, the financial and practical consequences of one mistake in swill feeding can be enormous and potentially far outweigh the costs above. This FMD outbreak, the cause of which was thought to be the feeding of unprocessed swill to pigs, is estimated to have cost in the region of £8 billion (including indirect costs) and the potential for re-introducing the disease by livestock being illegally fed on infected meat is a constant and on-going concern. For this reason, the Government support a maintenance of the EU wide ban which is now in place.