DEFRA must help pig industry halt decline

DEFRA must intervene to help halt the 10-year decline of the pig industry, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned.

The findings were made in a report published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on 13 January.

It said that research for the report pointed to the fact that the industry did not receive its fair share of the retail price when the production costs and investment needs of pig farming were taken into account.

“Although the English pig industry is highly competitive and is well known for being cyclical, the past 10 years have seen a steady decline in its scale and productivity.

“There has also been an increase in the pigmeat imported into the UK to satisfy consumer demand,” the report stated.

UK pigs cost more to produce than their EU counterparts. This is due to the effects of disease outbreaks, high feed prices, burdensome environmental regulations and the high cost of welfare standards for pigs introduced in 1999, the report findings said.

EFRA chairman Michael Jack said: “The English pig industry’s adherence to high welfare standards has left it vulnerable to competition from European producers whose production methods do not match ours.

“Retailers and processors must look again at their supply chain relationships to ensure that they deliver a fair price to the producer while responding to consumer demand.”

DEFRA must intervene and help the industry look again at which steps it can take to reduce its costs and increase its productivity to ensure that it has a viable long-term future, Mr Jack concluded.