BBC’s Farming Today programme kick started its ‘Pig Week’ with an interview with NPA chief executive Zoe Davies, who gave her thoughts on some of the big issues affecting the pig sector – African swine fever (ASF), Brexit and the future farrowing crates.
Throughout the week, the programme will feature stories on the pig sector. Presenter Charlotte Smith set the scene, stating that there were now approximately 5 million pigs in the UK, with 40% of the breeding herd kept outside, and ownership increasingly concentrated into a handful of large companies.
Dr Davies highlighted ASF as the number one challenge facing pig farmers, pointing out that the virus is now just 20km from the German border. “If it does get in to Germany it will impact on the European pork market quite significantly,” Zoe said, adding that there are lots of potential ways that it could get into the UK.
“It has the ability to completely decimate the herd, but also to impact heavily on our trade, which at the moment is blossoming to China and is saving a lot of producers (from lower prices),” she said.
Zoe described Brexit as the next biggest issue for the sector. She warned that uneven export tariffs in the event of a no deal Brexit – around 30% on exports to the EU but just 2-5% on imports from around the world – would put domestic producers at a ‘massive disadvantage’.
The NPA is also keen ensure the UK does not end up with differing standards on pork imported to the UK under future trade deals, as the Government looks to raise domestic standards ever higher.
As Defra Ministers look to work with the industry to phase out farrowing crates, Dr Davies also explained why the crates are still needed in indoor pig production to protect piglets and the health and welfare of staff.
You can listen to the full interview here (from approximately 8 minutes).