'I'm in shock, it's too unbelievable for words'

A A A

Neville Kemp, a pig farmer, has gone past despair to what he calls "stage three" - a steely determination to survive.

Neville Kemp, a pig farmer, has gone past despair to what he calls "stage three" - a steely determination to survive.

"First of all you ask questions like 'Why?', then you blame others, and then in the third stage you reach the positive curve - you decide to do something about it and fight," he said yesterday.

Over the past four years, the pig breeder has faced continuous hurdles. The announcement last week that swine fever had broken out at a breeding unit only five kilometres from his land was just the latest in a long line of devastating blows. "I was just in a state of severe shock. It is just too unbelievable for words," he said yesterday.

Mr Kemp, 45, a tenant farmer for more than 20 years, has a herd of 720 breeding sows and a small number of Aberdeen Angus cattle on land near Thetford, Norfolk. Although his herd has not shown signs of infection, Mr Kemp is in a surveillance area for swine fever. The 300 pigs that are supposed to leave his farm for slaughter each week are now trapped on it. By next week, he will have almost 1,000 extra mouths to feed, with little hope of recuperating the cost at sale.

"It takes years and years and years to build up a business like this and overnight you could be worth nothing," he said. "But I am being positive. If you are negative the whole thing will fall down like a pack of cards."

Along with other pig farmers, his problems began in earnest with the crisis over bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 1996. With the ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to his livestock, he not only lost a cheap source of protein but incurred the cost of disposing of it. It cost him almost £120,000 per year.

Next, new laws were introduced in Britain, banning the use of stalls and tethers. Mr Kemp was forced to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in building more humane enclosures for his pigs to roam free.

The price of his pork plunged. Two years ago, a pig, which would cost him almost a £1 per kilo to raise, was selling for less than half that.

Eventually, half the pig keepers went out of business and supply dropped by one-third. This year, the dead-weight kilo price of a pig rose to more than £1. "We thought, finally, perhaps, we might in the next two or three years start to recoup the costs of the last four years," he said. Then, last week, swine fever was found in England.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ideal candidates for the role m...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific