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A government review of the pig industry will increase fairness and transparency across the sector, says Defra.

Transparency key for producers

• Rising costs and labour shortage

• Defra is ‘keen to help pig farmers’

A government review of the pig industry will increase fairness and transparency across the sector, says Defra.

The consultation follows recent challenges faced by pig producers – including rising costs and labour shortages, which industry leaders say raise serious questions about the functioning of the supply chain.

The review is seeking views on issues such as transparency, price reporting, clarity of contractual terms and conditions, and market consolidation. Submissions can be made until 7 October 2022.

Defra farm minister Victoria Prentis said she was inviting views from pig farmers, abattoirs, processors, retailers, marketing groups and all stakeholders involved in the pig supply chain across the whole country.

The government was keen to support farmers, she said. Producers were dealing with turbulent markets, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to increased input costs, including feed, fuel, energy, and fertiliser.

Global shortages

Ms Prentis said: “Recent months have been very difficult for pig farmers due to a range of pressures including rising costs and global labour shortages.

“We have engaged closely with the sector to support them in considerably reducing the backlog of pigs on farms and I continue to work with producers and retailers to support the sector.

“I am a firm believer in ‘Buy British’ and supporting our domestic pig producers, and a fair and transparent supply chain is paramount. I hope the industry engages fully with this consultation so that we can help to address the challenges that they are facing.” 

The government had already provided a package of measures to help address the challenges faced by producers, said Ms Prentis. But many farmers have accused Defra of acting too slowly to make a difference.

Support includes temporary work visas for pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid (PSA) and Slaughter Incentive Payment (SIP) schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs.

Ms Prentis said the government was also working with the industry to support efforts on the longer term recruitment and retention of domestic workers – both on farms and in slaughterhouses and processing plants.

To help ease pressure on farm cashflows, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Quality Meat Scotland, suspended the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021

Ms Prentis has chaired three roundtables – in February, March and July 2022 – with pig industry representatives from across the UK to discuss the challenges that the sector has faced for more than a year.