Farmer Focus: Carnage on farm as pigs back up

The pig industry continues to be hit with one problem after another, without the prior problem being resolved.

This is creating carnage at farm level and it’s important that every producer continues to highlight that in whatever way they can. 

To say life on our farm is currently rather challenging would be an understatement.

It has been a rarity to sell our weekly target numbers in the past few months, and the consequences of that are being felt.

About the author

Jack Bosworth
Essex pig farmer Jack Bosworth farms 263ha of arable and a 540-sow farrow-to-finish operation in partnership with his family. About 60% of pigs are finished at home and 150 are sent to a farm in Norfolk to finish on a bed and breakfast contract.
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Feed, water, slurry storage and accommodation requirements all increase while sales decrease. This is not something you want to be reporting back to the bank manager, that’s for sure.

Everyone within the sector has been waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel so we can get out of this crisis and recover, or, to quote a man becoming increasingly unpopular, “build back better”.

Some producers have already made the call to pack up as others struggle on. 

See also: Hundred of piglets culled as farmers run out of space

While we do have a backlog due to reduced sales, we are more fortunate than many other producers thanks to a healthy, long-term working relationship with nearby abattoirs.

These are family businesses that are doing all they can to support us, for which we are very grateful.

See also: Why local abattoirs are at risk and how farms are affected

Heading into October, welfare culls were imminent on many farms. Production cannot be switched off when the going gets tough, and that is something this government just doesn’t understand. 

Admittedly, I always thought there was no way this government would allow such a catastrophe to occur, and certainly not to the scale that is predicted, but after hearing Boris Johnson’s response when questioned on The Andrew Marr Show, he really has thrown us under the bus and his attitude of “let’s see what happens” is an insult to every pig farmer in the UK.

Temporary Covid recovery visas would allow output in processing to increase, thus reducing the backlog. However, it seems that option is of no interest to this shambles of a government.

Imports will continue to fill supermarket shelves and thousands of UK pigs will end up in the bin. If this is building back better, count me out.