Hardship fund for farmers impacted by closure of major pig plant

The Pig Producers Hardship Support Scheme will offer support to eligible pig farmers
The Pig Producers Hardship Support Scheme will offer support to eligible pig farmers

Applications for £715,000 worth of financial support has opened for Scottish pig producers affected by the closure of the abattoir at Brechin earlier this year.

The pork processing site, owned by Quality Pig Processors (QPP), temporarily closed for over a month after a Covid-19 outbreak was discovered among its workforce.

Producers who supplied the Angus-based abattoir were paid £15 less per pig during this period.

Subsequently, the plant lost its licence to export to China, which further impacted on pig farmers.

The Scottish government's Pig Producers Hardship Support Scheme will issue £715,000 for losses incurred.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The Covid-related closure of Brechin abattoir earlier this year had a negative impact on pig farmers, during already challenging times for the farming industry.

“We have worked closely with the sector to make sure that this hardship fund provides affected farmers with adequate financial support for losses incurred through no fault of their own.

"The scheme is open for applications until 26 September 2021. I would encourage all eligible producers to submit their applications as soon as possible.”

Payments will be prioritised in the order in which applications are received, and will be issue no later than 1 November 2021.

Full details of the scheme are published on the Scottish government's website, including guidance for applications and eligibility criteria.

It comes as current labour shortages at abattoirs across the UK have resulted in a surplus of 70,000 pigs on farms, the National Pig Association recently warned.

The lack of available workers at processing plants is causing a significant surplus of pigs stuck on farms, the trade body said.

Most plant workers - the majority being eastern European - have gone back to their home countries following Covid-19 travel restrictions and Brexit uncertainty.

Meanwhile, pig producers are continuing to struggle with record costs and negative margins that have persisted since the start of the year.