Pig sector urges retailers to copy Waitrose’s price pledge

The pig sector has urged UK retailers to follow Waitrose after it made a fresh pledge to pay farmers a fair price during the backlog crisis.

Waitrose said it would be extending its commitment to pay a ‘fair and sustainable’ minimum price for pork to all of its pig producers.

The pledge has been made as prices continue to plummet, alongside record costs of production and an on-farm backlog of approximately 200,000 pigs.

The sector has faced a range of challenges, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, global disruption to CO2 supplies, and crippling labour shortages.

Waitrose’s move extends its previous commitment announced in November 2021, which it agreed to review on a regular basis.

Announcing the price pledge, the retailer warned the pig sector was facing ‘the biggest crisis in a generation’, with ‘falling prices impacting financial sustainability’.

 

 

by FarmingUK

Summit held to address ‘desperate’ crisis facing pig industry

Pig farmers are in a “desperate” position – with culls of thousands of healthy animals and producers quitting the industry, they warned as a summit was held on the crisis.

Farmers demonstrated outside a meeting in York on Thursday as industry representatives met with the Environment Department (Defra) about the problems facing the pig production sector.

The National Pig Association (NPA) said the backlog of pigs ready for processing, which are having to be held on farms because of a shortage of butchers, is now estimated at more than 200,000 animals.

The industry body said it knew of 35,000 healthy pigs which have been culled on farms as a result of the backlog, although this is likely to be an underestimate, and 40 independent producers have recently left the sector.

Producers are being hit by shortages in EU workers, caused by Brexit and the pandemic, to process their pigs and by high costs of feed for animals that are having to be kept on farms for longer before being sent to abattoirs.

Healthy pigs are being culled by farmers who have run out of space, creating food waste, while producers are also being penalised for overweight animals processed late, the NPA said.

As the NPA and National Farmers’ Union (NFU) held an emergency summit with Defra, attended by representatives from major retailers and pork processors, farmers warned the meeting was vital to the industry.

 

 

 

By Emily Beament / Evening Standard

Defra agrees to urgent summit with pig sector as crisis deepens

The government has agreed to convene an emergency summit of the entire pig supply chain as the sector’s crisis deepens.

Defra farming minister Victoria Prentis today agreed to the joint National Pig Association (NPA) and NFU request for a roundtable event amid a worsening crisis.

It comes as the pig backlog is now estimated to be well in excess of 170,000 due to a lack of butchers in pork processing plants, as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

Tens of thousands of healthy pigs have been culled on farms across the country by increasingly desperate producers who have run out of space.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer and NFU president Minette Batters wrote to Defra last week, calling for it to “arrange a summit of the entire pig supply chain so that we can agree a plan to get these pigs off farms and onto people’s plates”.

Responding, Mrs Prentis agreed that “convening a roundtable bringing together producers, processors, and retailers to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by the sector would be helpful”. The date will be arranged ‘shortly’.

She acknowledged that recruitment of butchers via the temporary visa route, which closed to applications on 31 December, had ‘taken longer than initially expected’.

But she said that processors could still recruit butchers via the UK’s new points-based immigration system, which was introduced last month.

The Defra minister also acknowledged that uptake of both the Private Storage Aid (PSA)and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes had been lower than anticipated.

 

 

 

by Farming UK

Eustice puts pig crisis onus on processors

Defra Secretary George Eustice has told a committee of MPs that the Government is ‘limited’ in what it can do to support pig producers during their time of crisis.

Instead, Mr Eustice put the onus very much on pork processors to do more to increase their throughput and reduce the backlog on farms, at one point appearing to suggest this should include paying farmers less to speed up the process of getting pigs through plants.

However, while he offered little prospect of any short-term Government help for the industry, Mr Eustice reiterated that Defra is looking to introduce new legislation in the future to ensure a more functional and fairer pig supply chain.

Mr Eustice was questioned on the pig crisis by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee chairman Neil Parish and other MPs at the end of a long and wide-ranging session on Tuesday covering his and Defra’s work.

‘Sheer waste of food’

Mr Parish quoted a Yorkshire pig farmer, who had told him pigs are being culled on her farm ‘as we speak’, as the impact of pigs being held on farm for longer due to processing delays takes its toll. “There are animal welfare issues of this and it’s a sheer waste of food,” Mr Parish said, before asking the Defra Secretary what more could be done to get pigs ‘properly processed and the animal welfare issues solved’.

Mr Eustice acknowledged that the situation was ‘quite difficult’, but went on to explain how the industry’s ‘asks’ that the Government had delivered in its October support package had not been utilised by processors.

The ‘bespoke’ temporary visa scheme for pigs that was delivered despite being a departure from Government policy ‘hasn’t been used as much as we’d hoped’, he said. “There was a provision for about 800, but I think it will be in the low hundreds for the numbers that they actually bring in under that scheme.

“Some of the processors have used the skilled route to bring some butchers in from some areas, but they’ve not they’ve not been recruiting in the way we thought they might, given the labour shortage was one of the key issues they kept highlighting.

 

Alistair Driver / Pig World

Eustice refuses to offer support for local abattoir network

Defra Secretary George Eustice has been accused of ‘missing the point’ on slaughterhouse investment, after he suggested no local abattoir network policy was needed to accommodate Government plans for shorter livestock journeys.

Last week, the Government launched an eight-week consultation on improving animal welfare in transport, which included proposals to cut maximum journey times and ban live exports.

But on Tuesday (November 8), Mr Eustice refused to offer much-needed support for smaller abattoirs in order to meet these aims.

Speaking to MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, he suggested supermarkets which stipulate animals must be sent to a particular slaughterhouse would need to change their supply chain policies in order to ‘accommodate the law’, but added: “We have looked at where all the slaughterhouses are, species by species, and then considered hypothetically how quickly farms in many different parts of the country could get animals to the slaughterhouse.

 

by Abi Kay