asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will report as to when the Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme will open for applications. [HL438]
The Ongoers element of the Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme was today opened for applications and will remain open for six months. This announcement completes the delivery of a further component of the Government's Action Plan for Farming. The scheme will make a significant amount of money available to the UK pig industry; a sector that has suffered over the past two years. While market conditions have improved recently, the scale of the debt incurred over those difficult times continues to be a major restraint on the industry's ability to prepare itself for the future. The Government's restructuring scheme will go some way towards remedying that situation.The aim of Ongoers is to help pig producers reduce costs, overcome any competitive disadvantages and restore long-term viability to their businesses. It will achieve this by providing an interest rate rebate on loans linked to an agreed business plan.Phase one of the scheme—Outgoers, was opened on 4 December 2000 and since then over 1,500 application forms have been sent out in response to telephone and e-mail requests.