Hundreds of pig producers are taking to the streets of Westminster in a bid to raise awareness of the crisis in the pig industry.
Farmers from across the country are being joined by MPs and celebrities to highlight how soaring input costs and poor supermarket prices are putting producers out of business (view pictures of the protest).
In a day of activities aimed to encourage retailers to pass on fairer prices for pork products, protestors are handing in a petition at 10 Downing Street calling for greater support in response to rising feed prices.
Lead by The National Pig Association, the campaigners are also be wielding a giant fake sausage so they can ask MPs and supporters to answer their SOS to ‘Sign Our Sausage’.
The NPA has pointed out that pig farmers are losing more than £21 on every pig they sell. The industry as a whole is losing £3.6m a week.
Barney Kay, general manager for the NPA, said: “We are not asking for the end price of the product to go up – just a fairer distribution of the margin.
“Retailers are still making profits from pork and so are processors. We are asking why pig producers are subsidising those profits.”
John Picken, NFU Scotland vice president – who will be attending the rally with a dozen Scottish pig producers – said the day hoped to remind retailers that producers needed and deserved better treatment.
“We are an industry in crisis,” he added. “Too many of our major retailers are too quick to stock shelves with cheap, imported pork and bacon.
“We want them to stand by local pig farmers and pay them a price that properly recognises the costs they face and the higher level of standards that we produce to in the UK.”
But the British Retail Consortium said retailers were already making efforts to promote British meat while keeping the prices down for customers.
“Retailers know some consumers prefer to buy British. They’re already doing what they need to look after their supply chain and secure a sustainable UK pig industry so they can sell the products people want to buy,” said Andrew Opie, BRC director.
“Supermarkets do not pay farmers directly for their pork. The direct relationship is between farmers and processors. Blaming retailers ignores the importance of the buying decisions made by manufacturers and caterers.
“Keeping shop prices down is the right thing to do in the current financial climate. Making pork products more expensive will just cause customers to buy less, the opposite of what farmers want.”
You can follow the protest on Twitter. We’ll also be compiling a Pigs Are Still Worth It page.
* What about the British poultry sector? Is it time for egg and poultrymeat producers to vent their feelings in Westminster? Have your say on our Poultry Platform