The government has been urged to tackle the causes of the long-term decline of the British pig industry, which has seen production fall by 40% since 1999.


Speaking at a debate on the decline of the industry in the House of Lords on 6 April, crossbencher Lord Palmer, of Manderston, Duns, Berwickshire, said many pig farmers were struggling to pay debts incurred by rising feed prices in 2007 and 2008.

Although prices have stabilised in the past two years, Lord Palmer said the pig industry, the government and the food supply chain must work together to help struggling farmers achieve fairer prices to better reflect their production.

“Between 1997 and 2007, the size of the UK pig herd reduced by 40% and for every 10 pigs we had in 1999, there are just six today,” said Lord Palmer.

“The higher production costs arising from higher welfare standards were compounded by the rising feed prices during 2007 and 2008,” he added.

Lord Palmer, a member of the EU sub-committee for environment and agriculture, said clearer labelling would improve competition in the pig industry. And he warned that UK public bodies were inadvertently playing into the hands of competitors by selling poorly labelled imported products.