'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?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Recruitment Genius: Help Desk Specialist

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides Reliabili...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor