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North-east pig farmers urged to reach out for RSABI support

By David Porter

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As concern about the Scottish pig industry continues to grow, an Aberdeenshire pig producer has this week reminding farming families that emotional support is there for them if it is needed.

Pig farmer Danny Skinner and RSABI's Caraol McLaren
Pig farmer Danny Skinner and RSABI's Caraol McLaren

Danny Skinner, who farms near Insch, is encouraging producers not to hesitate to reach out to an organisation like RSABI if they are feeling overwhelmed, saying he would do so himself if needed.

The Skinner family, like pig farming families around the country, are proud of the pig enterprise they have built up and have invested heavily in their operation over recent years, including new sheds and equipment to ensure they are constantly improving their business.

Like pig producers throughout Scotland, they have done their best to develop their pig herds over several generations and they have seen tough times before.

“We are resilient as an industry, but this is very different, " he said.

"With the amount costs have gone up – including feed and energy – it is just not sustainable for many, and we are seeing producers now steadily going out of pigs or increasing their borrowings to worrying levels.

“I think there may be a faint glimmer of light out there, but it is still far away, and there are so many unknowns, which means there is, without doubt, huge pressure on everyone involved in the industry.”

RSABI chief executive, Carol McLaren recent;y visited Mr Skinner’s farm and heard first-hand about producers’ concerns.

She said it was vital that everyone plays a part in supporting and looking out for pig farmers and others in farm businesses which are most vulnerable to the increased costs.

“This is a really, really difficult time for producers like Danny who have devoted their entire working lives to pig production, " she said.

"Some of them are making really tough decisions and judgement calls about how they move forward, and it is so important that they know RSABI is here to support them,” she said.

“Our Helpline – 0808 1234 555 - is friendly, professional and 100 per cent confidential and it is rewarding to hear very positive feedback from working farmers who contact us.

"We would urge farming families not to feel they are alone because we are here for everyone involved in Scottish agriculture and the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start to help.”

The chair of NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee, Jamie Wyllie, said: “Things have been very difficult for pig farmers for well over a year.

"With the price of feed increasing by over 60 per cent since last year and the price we get paid for our product only increasing by about 25 per cent, losses have mounted up to levels never seen before.

“With no immediate sign of these losses stopping, the impact this has on our mental health is immense.

"As an industry we are so incredibly lucky to have a trusted and valued organisation such as RSABI to speak to and help us and the benefit and impact of the work they do is immeasurable."

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