Government support package will help to reduce backlog, Eustice tells NPA
23rd Dec 2021 / By Alistair Driver
Defra Secretary George Eustice has responded to a letter from NPA chairman Rob Mutimer, outlining his belief that the Government support package will help address the animal welfare issues associated with the pig backlog.
Rob wrote to Mr Eustice in November, calling on him to take action to ensure the support package delivers on its key aim of easing the pig backlog on farms, rather than simply benefiting processors.
He asked Mr Eustice to convene a roundtable meeting of processors, retailers and producers to discuss the crisis and invited him onto a farm ‘to see first-hand how this on-going crisis is impacting British food producers’.
There has been little obvious benefit from the support package so far - very few butchers have arrived and there has been minimal uptake of the private storage aid and slaughter incentive payment schemes.
Mr Eustice insisted, however that the package of measures will 'play an important role in helping to address the considerable animal welfare implications arising from the current backlog of pigs on farm'.
He said the industry response to the butcher visas has been ‘positive’ and suggested that, following a meeting with processors, he was considering extending the PSA and SIP schemes to March 2022.
"Should these schemes be extended, the industry must do all it can to take them up to maximise the additional butchers coming in under the visa scheme and to clear the backlog," he said.
He added that both he and Farming Minister Victoria Prentis would be ‘very pleased’ to visit a pig farm when their diaries permit.
You can read the detailed letter in full in the Members' Area.