FMD outbreaks in the Thirsk area are further demoralising the already depressed British pig producing and processing sectors. The new cases are close to major pig breeding units in Yorkshire, until now regarded as protected geographically if not economically, against the disease. Nearly all the infection has so far been confined to sheep and cattle populations on the western side of the country. Pig production, being mostly in eastern England, is mainly affected indirectly: the export ban and livestock movement restrictions are said to have caused a huge build-up of almost worthless sows on farms. Direct exposure to the disease would reduce further the already declining numbers of home produced clean pigs by prompting mass culls. But even if this doesn't happen, it is clear the British pig industry will be much smaller than processors and retailers would prefer. Latest forecasts from the British Pig Executive suggest annual clean pig slaughterings will settle almost permanently at perhaps 11 million head, against nearly 16m at the last cyclical peak in 1998. {{M/E MEAT }}