On-farm pig cull will get 'worse and worse' unless summit delivers results, Zoe tells Today programme
10th Feb 2022 / By Alistair Driver
More and more healthy pigs will be culled on farm unless today’s pig industry crisis summit delivers some positive outcomes, according to NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.
Zoe was interviewed about the situation on farms and the NPA’s hopes for the summit by Nick Robinson on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme this morning, as media interest in the pig industry’s plight grows again.
You can listen HERE (from 54 minutes)
Defra’s most recent pig farm survey estimated the backlog at 168,000 on December 1. Zoe explained that the current estimate was that around 200,000 pigs are backed up on farms, as the situation worsened over the festive period when slaughter days were lost.
Asked about whether pigs were still being culled on farms, she said: “The awful reality of it is that we are already killing healthy animals, and they are already going for rendering and that will only increase because the situation is deepening on farm.
“But it's also a deepening financial crisis for those farmers who have been 12 months now with no profits at all and they are basically having to make decisions about: “Do we feed the pigs and get even more into debt or do we kill them?””
“We've already lost 10% of the English sow herd - 30,000 sows have gone. We know that more and more producers every day are having to make really tough decisions. They just cannot afford to continue producing pork for the sector and all for a situation that was caused by absolutely no fault their own.”
She explained how the Government support package announced in October had made no difference so, with just over 100 butchers coming in under the seasonal worker scheme, when 800 visas were available. “It has had absolutely no impact on at the backlog of pigs on farms,” Zoe said.
Asked what the NPA will be asking Ministers for today, Zoe said: “Ministers need to ensure that the measures that they put in place actually work. There no point putting measures in place that fail - it's a waste of taxpayers’ money and it doesn't benefit those that it was originally intended for.
“They have a responsibility there - let's be honest this situation has been caused as a result of post-Brexit immigration policy. It's their fault that we ended up with no people in the processing plants to do the butchery.
“But there are also others in the supply chain that have a responsibility, so we would like the Government to effectively ask the rest of the supply chain to do far more than they are already doing - that includes both the processors and the retailers.”