NPA chair issues warning over future of independent producers as Countryfile focuses on pig crisis
26th Sep 2022 / By Alistair Driver
NPA chairman Rob Mutimer warned that independent pork producers could virtually disappear as Countryfile highlighted the scale of the pig crisis.
In a 10-minute feature, which can be viewed here, a number of pig farmers, including Chris Fogden (right), who is quitting production, Kate and Vickie Morgan, Simon Watchorn, Anna Longthorp and Stephen Thompson, explained how the crisis is affecting them.
Chris, who farms outdoor pigs in Suffolk, told interviewer Tom Heap: "We are winding down and getting out of pig production. Everything is going for slaughter."
At current prices and cost levels, he could lose £360,000 a year if he continues. The pigs will be gone by July. "It was either them or me. I had to get out to still have a roof over my head. If I carried on there was a risk of losing everything," he said.
He has only recently heard of another pig farmer leaving the sector and warned that 'unless something happens very, very soon, there will be very few independent pig producers left'.
Kate Morgan revealed that, with grain prices up by about 50%, the cost of feed has increased by about 27p per pig per day, meaning they are losing about £50/pig.
"How long can we sustain that? We are hearing of different producers going out on a daily basis. It is awful. The industry will never look the same," she said.
Rob highlighted how much of the problem lies within the supply chain. "There are four main processors that process more than 80% of the pigs in the country.
"With the turmoil of the last two-and-a-half years, most of the contracts don't seem to be worth the paper they are written on," he said, adding that his processor has only been taking about 75% of contracted, something that has been rolling over for nine months, leaving 'an awful lot of pigs that are not sold'.
The programme discussed the need for reform of contracts through the current Government review and highlighted the profits made by some processors. The BMPA's Nick Allen acknowledged that there has been 'a history on both sides of being casual about contracts' and said it was right now that this is now being looked at. "You can't go through the last year and say it has worked well," he admitted.
The feature questioned whether, as more quit the industry, whether British pork farmers could be 'finished off' by the cost of living crisis.
"If we don't see a return to profitability by the end of the year, I don't see there being hardly any independent pig producers left in this country. There just won't be pork on the shelves produced to our standards in nine month's time," Rob said.