Premier moves to tackle pork price rise
The State Council has taken new measures to stabilise soaring pork prices, Xinhua reported yesterday.
Premier Wen Jiabao told a meeting of the State Council called to discuss pork supplies that the central government would provide subsidies to pig breeders to encourage rearing.
Extra funding would be awarded to large pig farms, the report said.
'Sustainable pig breeding and reasonable pork prices play an important role in stabilising food markets,' Mr Wen said.
'We should try all sorts of means to motivate farmers to raise pigs.'
The central government will also offer rural loans to pig breeders and insurance against the loss of sows as a consequence of illness or natural disaster.
Livestock farmers often lacked the means to sustain meat production, Xinhua said.
Funding for hygiene and waste management facilities would also be provided from the central budget, it added. Free inoculation against the blue ear epidemic, also known as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, and other diseases would be provided, Xinhua said.
Farmers who slaughter sick pigs will be compensated.
Following an outbreak of blue ear disease earlier this year, many farmers have stopped raising pigs because of worries they would lose money if the animals died. This, and a rise in feed prices, has sent the price of pork - the staple meat - soaring, helping to push consumer price inflation to a surprising 4.4 per cent last month.
Supervision will be strengthened to ensure substandard pork does not enter the food chain, and the central government will launch another emergency crackdown on the sale of unsafe meat.
Previous reports said unscrupulous meat sellers had been injecting pigs with water, and passing off diseased meat as edible, to take advantage of record pork prices.
Temporary financial help would be offered to low-income families to help them maintain a minimum living standard, the Xinhua report added.
Government funding would also be provided to campus canteens to control food price rises. Meanwhile, less wealthy students would receive an allowance, it added.
Local governments should abolish existing policies that would inhibit pork production, the report said.
Pork prices have risen sharply this year and are 75 per cent higher last month than a year ago, according to state media. Xinhua said the dramatic rise was a result of production bottlenecks and the recent outbreak of blue ear disease that led to mass culling of pigs.
The rise in feed costs and cyclical factors have also contributed to the price rise. The high prices have rattled government nerves, amid worries that the inflationary pressures stemming from the economic boom could lead to unrest.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture sent 30 teams of experts to inspect the mainland's 60 main pig production bases and to publicise policies aimed at fighting the spread of blue ear disease.
Disease and high feed prices have cut production, pushing pork prices up sharply
By June, pork prices had increased from a year earlier by 75%