New Farming Minister Mark Spencer has set out how the Government will try to help the ailing pig sector during his first farm visit in the role.
Mr Spencer, who comes into the role with a strong background in farming, visited Des and Fred Allens’ pig unit in Nottinghamshire. Accompanied by Defra Head of Agriculture John Powell, he also met NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson and senior policy adviser Charlie Dewhirst, other local pig farmers and a local NFU representative.
He was told, from first hand experience, of the scale and range of problems facing the industry at the moment, including soaring costs and the falling breeding herd, and discussed areas where the Government could intervene to help.
Mrs Wilson said: “This was a very welcome opportunity to meet the new Minister so early in his time at Defra – we are pleased he chose a pig unit for his first farm visit.
“He outlined ways he said the Government is trying to help, including the energy price cap and initiatives on CO2 and fertiliser. Helpfully, he also indicated the Home Office should now be more willing to engage with the labour issues the sector is facing, something that has not always been the case in the past.
“Of course, we also discussed the contractual practice in the UK pig sector consultation and urged the Minister to reconvene regular supply chain roundtable meetings, which we are pleased to say he agreed to.
“Other issues discussed included Defra’s position on farrowing crates, biosecurity, the future of small abattoirs, labelling, pork exports and, more widely, the Government’s approach to food security.
“It was a constructive meeting, and we look forward to building a good working relationship with the new Defra team as we continue to fight for the future of the pig sector.”
- Pictured left to right: John Powell, Defra, Fred Allen, Mark Spencer, Lizzie Wilson, Des Allen