Defra has announced an important change to the Slaughter Incentive Payment Scheme (SIPS) that should go some way to helping to reduce the pig backlog.
The requirement for pigmeat from pigs slaughtered during a SIPS 2022 shift to go for export or into the Private Storage Aid Scheme (PSA) has been removed, applying from today.
The change means that pigs slaughtered in extra kills under the scheme can now be sold on the domestic market for higher prices than for product going into PSA or for export.
The change was one of the NPA’s key asks at last week’s summit, as the previous restrictions on SIPs were severely limiting uptake, as processors saw little incentive to use it when they knew they could not sell pork on the domestic market.
The first version of the scheme was introduced in November to increase the throughput of pigs by contributing towards the extra costs involved in operating additional slaughter shifts at abattoirs.
The revised SIPS 2022 increased the payment rate for eligible pigs from £3 to £10 per pig. Defra said it was aiming to incentivise processors to maximise the use of additional butchers from January by putting on more shifts than was possible at the end of 2021.
NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “This is a much-needed boost to the pig industry. It should encourage processors to put on these extra kills and, in turn, speed up progress in reducing the backlog.
“We are grateful to Defra for listening to our arguments and taking this important step to help struggling pig producers.”
Defra said the change was made following discussions with industry. It said it has been ‘working closely with industry’ to understand how best to support it in response to the challenges caused by the pandemic, access to CO2 supplies, a temporary shortage of labour (specifically skilled butchers) and the loss of the Chinese market to several processing plants as a result of the pandemic.
“This led to a growing number of pigs backing up on farm and impacted the capacity of processors to slaughter and process pigs. Pig prices have fallen and without continued intervention could rapidly fall very significantly further,” the Department said.
It is anticipated that the scheme will close on March 31, or earlier if the limit of 100,000 pigs slaughtered is reached, with the claim window due to run from April 1-29.
The scheme is open clean pigs slaughtered and processed in England with a minimum deadweight of 25kg.
Shifts must be additional to shifts already agreed with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), either on an additional day or with a distinct break between normal shifts.