Hall’s of Broxburn taskforce meets again

Hall’s of Broxburn taskforce meets again

A jobs taskforce initiated by ministers to deal with the potential closure of the West Lothian food plant, Hall’s of Broxburn, met for a second time yesterday.

Following the meeting, Vion’s corporate affairs director, Alasdair Cox, said: “Given that we are still at an early stage of the consolation process it would be inappropriate to comment further on progress at this time.”

John Swinney, finance secretary said: “I will continue to do everything in my power to deliver continuity and security for the people employed at the plant.”

The plant handles 8,000 pigs per week but has been experiencing “unsustainable losses” for some considerable time, in spite of major investment and restructuring, and feels it is unable to continue. Closure of the plant would mean the loss of some 1,700 jobs.

Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim McLaren, who also attended the meeting, highlighted the potential impact of new pig industry legislation set to be implemented in the EU in a few months time: “The timing of this potential closure is particularly frustrating for our industry. In my view it is very possible the entire EU pig industry could look very different in a year’s time as a result of the enforcement of a Europe-wide sow stall ban which will come into effect on 1st January 2013.

“In Scotland, and indeed the rest of the UK, sow stalls have been banned since 1999 and our farmers have for that period been incurring the additional costs associated with delivering this improved welfare.

“Farmers in several key pig producing countries in Europe appear far from ready to meet this requirement and as a result we may well see significant re-structuring taking place.”

McLaren also voiced his concern about the impact of spiralling feed costs on the Scottish pig industry: “While processors may be concerned about rising pig prices the reality is that, as with milk, the prices being paid to producers are substantially below the cost of production.”

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