NPA chief executive Zoe Davies described the situation facing pork producers as an ‘absolute nightmare’ when she appeared on the BBC Jeremy Vine Show on Thursday.
She highlighted the ‘many different factors colliding at the same time’ that have contributed to a build up of pigs on farms over many months, including COVID-19 in pork plants, the new Brexit checks and rapidly increasing feed and straw costs. It all adds to ‘a bit of a mess’, she said.
Asked about the Brexit checks, Dr Davies said part that of the problem was people getting used to the new system and the time it takes. But, she added, there is also a ‘massive amount of bureaucracy, paperwork checks and cross-checks’.
Most exporters are getting now getting used to the new system and the situation is easing, but it is still taking an extra day or two for products to reach their destination, which has a big impact on shelf-life, she said, stressing the system was not designed for the ‘just-in-time’ model of UK food exports to the EU.
Pig farmers are under ‘huge stress’, she said. “There are a lot of very unhappy pig farmers out there – they are not only having to look after and find accommodation for these animals, but pigs that are getting ready for processing plants are big and boisterous and they need to be gone. Everyone has contingency plans but they are not designed to last four or five months.”
Kate Moore, who helps run the family farming business, near Driffield, was also interviewed, telling listeners her business was facing a ‘dire situation’, with all stages of production affected as pigs cannot be moved along the chain due to the backlog.
It is a ‘logistical nightmare’, she said, explaining that the farm is also being penalised financially as the pigs that stay on farm weeks grow ‘out of spec’ and attract a lower payment.
She urged consumers to actively seek British pork in supermarkets.
You can listen to the feature, HERE (from approx 1.10pm).