|To view pictures of the rally visit our picture gallery|
Pig producers from across the UK descended on Westminster on Tuesday (4 March) to highlight the crisis threatening the industry. The rally, organised by the National Pig Association, involved about 400 producers and the main farming organisations representing farmers across the country.
Producers are losing an average £26 per pig as a result of spiralling feed costs and the major retailers’ failure to pass back to producers the increase in retail price.
National Pig Association chairman Stewart Houston used the occasion to present a petition of 14,000 names to Number 10 Downing Street while MPs who attended the protest were urged to write to the supermarket bosses expressing concern about the future of the industry.
Speaking to Farmers Weekly Mr Houston said government needed to investigate the supply chain to ensure that it worked to ensure fairness for all throughout the chain.
“It seems incongruous to me that we have to produce pigs below the cost of production. The retailers are all aware of the situation, but each one finds it difficult to put its prices up individually because of the competition difficulties it presents for them. What they need to unite behind a rise in pig prices very, very quickly.”
Ulster Farmers Union president Kenneth Sharkey said the event was about adding to the pressure on supermarkets to raise prices.
“We must get the market to respond to the increase in input costs. We cannot as producers continue to produce a product for it to be sold below the cost of production. So we must get supermarkets and consumers to understand the true cost of producing pigs in the UK is under higher welfare requirements.”
• Farmers Weekly will be producing a video podcast of the rally featuring interviews with producers and leading figures from the industry. The podcast will be available on this site by Friday, 7 March.
Other moves by the farmers include the recording of a new version of the Tammy Wynette song Stand By Your Man. FWi had an exclusive insight into the making of the pig version Stand By Your Ham, which was rewrtten with a porky flavour by the NPA’s general manager Barney Kay.
Farmers Weekly has also joined the move to raise awareness of the pig industry’s plight. The FW group is partnering the retailer Waitrose in running the Save Our Bacon campaign, Waitrose is highlighting the difficulties faced by its farmer suppliers and urging customers to sign a pledge of awareness and support.