LONDON (B)--More than 118,000 pigs have been slaughtered in the past month as part of the U.K. government-funded pig Welfare Disposal Scheme, due to the outbreak of classical swine fever, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture's Intervention Board told BridgeNews Oct. 23. Tamar Burr, team leader for plan, said demand for entry was "very high" and not showing any sign of slowing down.

"Since the scheme started, we have seen a steady build up in farmers taking advantage of it. We're now inundated with applicants," Burr said. The Welfare Disposal Scheme was announced by agriculture minister Nick Brown at the end of August to help farmers with overstocking due to classical swine fever movement restrictions.

The payments for farmers entering the scheme, which were doubled when revised in September, currently provide 10.00 sterling for batches of animals averaging 45 kilograms per pig, 100% funded by government. Farmers get 30.00 sterling per head for batches averaging 45 to 100 kilograms and 65.00 sterling per head batches averaging 100 kilograms.

For the last category, 50.00 sterling of the payment is government-funded, while 15.00 sterling comes from the industry. Burr said it was impossible to say when the pace of slaughtering will slow, as it depends on how long movement restrictions remain in place.

So far, 15 cases of the highly infectious disease have been confirmed by government vets, with the number of pigs slaughtered or earmarked for slaughter exceeding 60,000.

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