The extraordinary position our industry we all love finds itself in really is devastating

In the latest edition of Pig World, Essex farmer and YNPA vice-chair Jack Bosworth praised everyone who has come together to fight back on behalf of the pig sector 

The extraordinary position our industry we all love finds itself in really is devastating. Pretty much every person involved in this sector has been negatively affected by the various challenges that are hitting us in such quick succession which really has heaped the pressure on.

BUT…one of the many great things about the pig industry is how we do come together when the going gets tough and I think the team at NPA really do play a key part in helping to create that. Everyone who went to Manchester on October 4 did a brilliant job by the looks of things and a big thanks to you all on behalf of those of us who couldn’t make it.

I kept an eye and ear on it through the day which was pretty easy thanks to all the coverage achieved! Whilst at the time of writing this we haven’t seen any change in Boris’ ‘let’s see what happens’ attitude, I am optimistic that some consumers, who now understand the situation, will search harder on the shelves to find British pork than they may have been doing before. 

As a collective, I do think we have always struggled to make ourselves known/heard on social media which I, having experienced it first-hand, put down to the fears of a completely unjustified backlash. With that in mind, it has been pleasing to see so many producers sharing both their unique and industry-wide situations on Twitter.

It’s important that we all continue to highlight the challenges on these platforms as consumers do listen to us, after all we are the most trusted source within the food supply chain! Social media is a very powerful tool and that really was proven after the PM’s comments on The Andrew Marr Show, I had never seen so many reactions to one video and it was coming from every sector in British farming! 

So where do we go from here? The Prime Minister doesn’t want to look at the situation until healthy animals start going in the bin. How he and others could ever justify that culling perfectly good animals to then throw away is a better alternative than granting temporary covid recovery visas to help clear the backlog is just mind blowing! 

I really do sympathise and feel angry for producers who are reaching the point of a welfare cull. A labour shortage at processing coupled with floods of lower price, lower welfare pork are both issues completely out of our control at farm level but as seems to be the case more often than not, farmers pay the price.

Smaller abattoirs

On our farm it has been a rarity to sell our weekly target numbers in the past few months but we are certainly more fortunate than many other producers thanks to a healthy, long-term working relationship with nearby, smaller abattoirs who themselves are family businesses that I know are doing all they can to support us for which we are very grateful.

Even a slight decrease in numbers leaving the farm has it’s consequences though. Feed, water, labour, slurry storage and accommodation requirements all increase whilst sales decrease…not something you want to be reporting back to the bank manager that’s for sure nor a recipe for a good night’s sleep!!

Dad and myself share the same goal of getting the business to be as self-sufficient as possible. We trust ourselves that the more of the process we can manage in-house, the more successful we will be, with the right team of people of course. An ambition of mine has always been to sell pork direct to consumers and I think opportunities are going to open up for us to do that in the future even if it is on a small scale.

I look at the challenges we are facing and wonder, could producers really be in a worse situation if they were in control of a larger percentage of the journey from farm to fork? I don’t think so. 

Putting yourself in the driving seat means you’re in control of the passengers, is that not more reassuring than the current situation so many of us are in? For the time being though, the whole industry is stuck because those that have the power to drive us away from this crisis are refusing to help.

As for us passengers, let’s stick together, keep sharing what we need to recover from this as an industry and lobby those that have the power to get things back on track. 

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