asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has satisfied himself with the progress in developing the pig processing sector; and if he will urge the processors to increase incentives to producers in order to ensure a sufficient supply of pigs for processing.
Written Answers. - Pig Processing.
The development programme for the pigmeat sector which I announced in July 1987 is progressing satisfactorily. The programme involves a total capital investment of £140 million over five years in the rationalisation and modernisation of slaughtering and processing facilities. To date, investments in excess of £80 million, backed up by generous State and EC aid, have been approved under the programme. Three new plants are already in operation while work on a fourth has commenced. Plans are also well advanced in respect of several other projects.
The success of the development programme is dependent on a number of factors including access to an adequate supply of pigs. Pigmeat plants which are in receipt of State and EC FEOGA assistance are required to achieve a minimum level of throughout of 6,000 pigs per week. Some plants have already introduced incentive packages for producers aimed at increasing pig supplies and I understand that there has been a considerable interest by farmers in taking up these schemes. Incentive packages are not the only source of encouragement to farmers to expand pig output. The improving returns from the sector in recent months should further facilitate the required growth in pig supply.