Alyn Smith will tomorrow (Wednesday) visit the farm of NFU Scotland's Pig Working Group Chairman, Philip Sleigh, in Aberdeenshire to discuss with farmers from the area the situation in the Scottish pig sector.
While at the farm, Alyn will be finding out how the sector is faring with rising input costs and the bad weather, and answering questions on the upcoming EU rule changes on sow stalls and the progress of the reform of the CAP.
Speaking in advance of the visit, Alyn said:
"Compared to Scotland's sheep and beef sector, the relatively small size of our pig sector does mean that it sometimes does not receive the attention that the others get. However, the last few years have been very tough for our pig farmers, with rising input costs and low returns. These factors - and others - have seen our pig sector in Scotland shrink by 25% between 2002 and 2009, and so I want to take this opportunity to get a first hand look at the problems facing our pig farmers.
"January 2013 marks the end of the phase out period for sow stalls and while our pig farmers have long been compliant, yet again we are likely to see other EU Member States being non-compliant come the deadline. The Commission have already put it on the record that they will launch infringement proceedings against non-compliant states on 1 January 2013 - I will be watching to see that that happens.
"With 64% of the pig sector based in the Grampian region, I hope I will get a chance to speak to some of our biggest producers. I also want to thank Philip Sleigh for taking the time to host my visit and I am sure it will be a very fruitful day."