Prentis promises review of ‘fairness in the pig supply chain’, as industry pushes for more immediate support

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis as announced an ‘immediate review of Supply Chain Fairness in the pig sector’, following today’s pig industry crisis summit. 

In her statement, there was little detail on any other measures to come out of the roundtable meeting to address the more immediate needs to the pig sector, as the pig backlog continues to generate huge problems on farms. The NPA is currently considering the details of the discussion and will issue a full response tomorrow.

Mrs Prentis and Defra Secretary George Eustice have both flagged up Defra’s desire to tackle inequalities in the pork supply, possibly with new legislation, following new regulation applying to the dairy supply chain.

In a statement, Mrs Prentis said she met with pig sector representatives from across the UK, including the NFU, NPA, producers, processors and retailers today.

“The sector has been faced with a range of challenges, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, global disruption to CO2 supplies, and global labour shortages and we want to support the industry to reduce the current backlog of pigs on farms,” she said.

“The effects on pig farmers have been devastating, and it is clear that many contractual arrangements are simply unfair. Our Agriculture Act includes provisions to address this unfairness, and we are launching an immediate review of Supply Chain Fairness in the pig sector.

“We want to hear from industry about improvements to fairness and transparency that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future and we will begin engaging with industry on this straightaway with a consultation expected later this year.

“This will come in addition to the measures we have already introduced to address the current challenges, including temporary visas for up to 800 pork butchers, funding for a private storage aid scheme and a new slaughter incentive payment scheme to help with the costs of running additional shifts for the processing of pigs. Both of these schemes have recently been extended until the end of March.”

“I want to reiterate my commitment to work with the sector to address the challenges they are facing, both in the short-term and the long-term.”

The package of industry support measures announced by Defra in October has made little difference, according to the NPA, with very few butchers arriving under the seasonal workers scheme and minimal uptake of the private storage aid and slaughter incentive payment schemes, However, Defra has said is expecting greater take-up of the various elements of the scheme in the coming months and therefore progress to be made in reducing the backlog.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.