Latest hint of official discomfort as the British pig sector shows no sign of rebuilding production capacity after the output collapse since 1998 is a plea from BPEX manager Mick Sloyan for farmers to take up aid in the form of subsidised loan interest available under DEFRA's industry restructuring programme. Although producers wanting to quit responded quickly to the 'outgoers' part of the scheme, the 'ongoers' aid has attracted little interest. This seems to support lobbyists' claims of much deeper financial depression in the sector than indicated by published estimates of production margins and implies processors and retailers should assume availability of British pigmeat will remain tight in the foreseeable future. At present the market is still having trouble digesting surplus home produced pork forequarter, trapped in the UK trade by FMD, and Dutch bacon is abundant. Short-term prospects are for slightly firmer prices, but the market is thought likely to turn easier near the end of the year as total EU pigmeat production begins rising again. {{M/E MEAT }}

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