Farmer Focus: Is there any trust left in this government?

I would describe myself as optimistic, but my optimism has been dented. I could compare my optimism to the standard pig price; it’s there but there are too many factors making it lower than it should be.

Starting with good news, light seems to be appearing at the end of the backlog tunnel.

The national SPP carcass weights have fallen every week since 2 April and are now at 92.06kg, back from a late January peak of 95.8kg.

See also: Pig crisis: Wasted backlog pork could have fed millions

About the author

Jack Bosworth
Livestock Farmer Focus writer 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.
Read more articles by Jack Bosworth

Emptying overflow accommodation would really take some weight off producers’ shoulders.  

Thanks to those processors who have stepped up their output to get numbers on farm back to the norm. It has been catastrophic and, in some cases, the final straw for many farming businesses to be feeding overweight pigs.

The mention of feed brings me to the bad news. The scary thing is, who honestly knows what heights cereal prices will hit?

AHDB’s weekly data showing feed wheat price as a percentage of the pig price continues to be at levels that are completely unsustainable. Something will have to give.

My opinion remains that cereal prices will not come back to £200/t or below anytime soon and the SPP won’t get to £2.50/kg, which is where I think it needs to be right now.

I think the answer must be a change to pricing structures. From an indoor perspective, I would favour a quarterly national average cost-of-production-type model as the bottom line.

This would reward the most efficient production and give others an incentive to invest in improving productivity without the risk of such volatility within the marketplace.

I appreciate this would not be for everyone and there are many other options out there that could include the relationship between wheat price and pig price.

One thing I’m sure we all agree on is we need to see a government supporting British food and farming.

Unfortunately, I believe it to be more likely that we see them adding further problems as opposed to solutions.

Hopefully we won’t have any announcements on revisiting the ban on conventional farrowing crates.

I would like to say it would be unthinkable to put that demand on producers right now, but is there any trust left in this government to do the right thing?