Three little pigs getting their snouts into the trough at Gartocharn on Loch Lomondside.

Picture by Bill Heaney

A Covid outbreak at one of the country’s busiest abattoirs has hit the pig farming industry in Scotland.

MSP Gillian Martin told the Scottish Parliament this week: “I have a great many pig farmers in my [Aberdeenshire] constituency, and they have been adversely impacted by the aftermath of the temporary closure of the abattoir at Brechin because of a Covid outbreak there.

“They face severe disruption because of the suspension of certificates to export to China, which is a big market for them, and the backlog in sending pigs to slaughter, which is leading to increased cost and capacity issues. Can the First Minister advise what assistance the Scottish Government can offer those businesses?”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told her: “I am aware of the challenges that Scottish pig farmers face following the temporary closure of the Brechin processing plant due to a Covid outbreak.

“Fergus Ewing [Agriculture Secretary] and officials are liaising closely with Quality Meat Scotland, farmers and the abattoir operators to address the problems that have been caused.

“Active consideration is being given to what, if any, hardship support can be provided to the farmers affected.

“It is disappointing that the temporary closure resulted in the suspension of the China export licence. It is key to try and restore that as quick as possible, and advice has been provided to the operators regarding the steps that are needed to achieve it.

“Officials liaise regularly with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Beijing embassy officials to examine all options that can help expedite the relisting process. Although I am sure that he is doing it already, I will ask Fergus Ewing to keep Gillian Martin updated on progress.”

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