Pig industry crisis - NPA blog, October 20: SPP tumbles again
20th Oct 2021 / By Alistair Driver
Updates on the latest developments as NPA seeks solutions to crisis hitting pig sector.
Another massive fall for the SPP
After a partial recovery the previous week, the SPP has taken another massive tumble, down 4.66p in the week ending October 16 to average 146.35p. The index is now more than 11p down on where it was a year ago.
This latest drop followed the record 4.75p drop at the start of October, followed by a partial recovery the next week.
It is, of course, mainly driven by the extra kills being put on to process pigs for markets requiring minimal butchery for very low prices. These prices are dragging the SPP down, while low EU prices, which continue to fall, are putting further downward pressure on the UK price.
The NPA is continuing to look into the falls in the SPP - you can read more in the Members' Area (scroll down to Oct 7 entry).
The latest market update from AHDB also showed another big jump in average carcase weights, which now stand at 91.45kg, nearly 5kg higher than a year, a further sign of the scale of the backlog on farms.
UK slaughterings stable, but butcher shortages are the key constraint
Defra figures indicate that UK pig slaughterings in September were broadly on a par with last year, albeit with variations across the UK.
But, with increased pig numbers this year, a lack of butchery capacity is limiting the ability to clear the backlog, according to AHDB.
Meanwhile, provisional Defra figures indicate UK pig numbers were 4% up in June, driven by fattening pig numbers. However, the breeding herd is likely to have contracted since then due to the hugely difficult situation on farms, according to AHDB.
Read more HERE
Farm suppport organisations recognise industry plight
Farm support organisations RABI and FCN have both recognised the particular difficulties the pig sector is facing.
More details on Government suppport package
In case, you haven't had a chance to look yet, members can see more details about the Government's pig industry support package HERE
More comment on Government support package
The NPA has welcomed the Government’s support package, butb warned the situation on many farms remains at critical point, so the measures need to be implemented promptly and effectively to bring about real improvement.
The latest Defra figures show that pig slaughterings in September were down 13%...
"This really is just the beginning of the process and we have a long way to go before we can say the crisis is over. The situation on many farms is still critical so we must not stop now," Zoe said.
Here's the NFU's response to the Defra package.
NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “This is very welcome news for the pork sector and provides some long-awaited relief for those farmers with pigs backing up on farm. Given the severity of these issues, it’s critical that this scheme is up and running as soon as possible to ease this backlog.
“Labour shortages across the food supply chain remain acute and continued engagement with government is essential to solve these wider issues. The food supply chain remains united in its view that a temporary 12-month Covid Recovery Visa is needed to enable the entire food and drink sector to recruit for essential roles, alongside an urgent announcement on the extension of the Seasonal Workers pilot scheme.
“I would also urge retailers to play their part in supporting the sector at this time by sourcing British pork and I would ask the public to make a conscious effort to look out for British pork when they are doing their shopping to back British farming.”
Media interest continues
Unsurprisingly, given what's gone before, there has been lots of media coverage of the Government's announcement. Here is just a selection:
Huffington Post - Pig Farming Crisis: Government Makes U-Turn To Avoid Mass Culling
Meryl Ward and Duncan Berkshire on Today
Great interviews by Lincolnshire farmer Meryl Ward and Yorkshire vet Duncan Berkshire on the Today programme.
Meryl talks about how her business has reached the point where they have been looking at on-farm culling, including applying for a slaughterman's licence.
"We had got to that point where are running out of options, so the timing of this is fantastic. It can't come soon enough to get butchers coming into this country and the backlog of pigs moving off farm," she said.
Duncan said around 6,000 culls had so far been culled on farm, a number that is certain to increase if the situation does not improve.
He said there was a 'generally positive positive feel across the whole pig sector that the Prime Minister and Government have listened and engaged'. While there would be 'some devil in the detail' of both the storage aid and the visas, he said the initial feeling within the industry was that these measures would help.
You can listen HERE (from about 7.14 am)
Government listens and acts
Good morning. Certainly a better one than most of late.
The industry is still in a very difficult place - the NPA believes that around 6,000 pigs have been culled so far on farms due to space pressures, which are continuing.
But this will help and its shows the Government, finally, has listened.
Here's our initial reaction with more to come as the NPA team delves down into the detail.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We are so very relieved that the Government has finally released some measures aimed at reducing the significant pig backlog on farms.
"We are working with the processors to understand the impact of these new measures and to determine exactly what will happen now, and how quickly, so that we can give pig farmers some hope and stem the flow of healthy pigs currently having to be culled on farms."
Visa announcement 'imminent'
We are working closely with the pig sector in response to the backlog of pigs to both minimise on-farm culling and to tackle the shortage of butchers in the processing sector.
"We are working with processors to increase processing throughput and the recruitment of domestic workers. We continue to engage in discussion with retailers and the foodservice sector and are working with AHDB to reactivate the Chinese market and to identify other export markets," he told peers.
Then after a highly critical Pig World editorial was put to him (fame at last), suggesting that the Government did not care about the pig sector's plight, he responded:
"I can tell the noble baroness we care deeply about this sector and people that work in it and the welfare of animal concerned and want nothing more than to smooth out the perfect storm of a variety of different issues, which have brought this to a head at this particular time.
"I had hoped to be able to come to the house within an announcement. It is imminent. She will be pleased with the hard work Ministers and officials have put in to show that we did care and we want this industry to get back on its feet."
He was questioned by various peers, who expressed deep concern about the industry's plight.
You can view the debate HERE (from 11.46am)
Visa announcement today?
There is intense speculation that an announcement on visas for the pork sector is immiment. The NPA has issued a statement.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We have heard of unconfirmed reports that the Government is set to issue a number of temporary visas to allow processors to employ foreign nationals in abattoirs to help with the processing of the backlog of pigs on UK farms.
"We have not had any official confirmation by Government on their plans so as yet we are unable to provide any comment.
"If there is to be any kind of announcement, we will release a response to the media in due course. We would like to thank you for your patience and continued support at this time."
Pig levy holiday confirmed
Ministers have confirmed one-month levy holidays for pig producers in England and Scotland during November, estimated to be worth just under £1 million in savings for the industry.
Optimisim over Government action
Sky News has picked up on the NPA's growing optimism about a change of heart within Government over its response to the pig industry crisis.
Red Tractor clarification
Red Tractor's pork board chair has responded to 'unhelpful misinformation at this time of heightened sensitivity' by clarifying its stance on inspections during the current backlog.
"I want to reassure members that during this time, no action has been taken against any farmers where our standards on farm have not been met because of circumstances beyond their control," Stewart Houston said.
SPP back up as progress on backlog stalls
Some relief for the pig sector as the SPP has moved back up in the right direction, up 2.19p last week, following the unprecedented 4.75p drop the previous week. The SPP is now nearly 7p below a year ago and 1.3p below the five-year average.
But it is something of a double-edged sword, however, as the reason for recovery was that fewer extra pigs processed with minimal butchery at lower prices for export to Asian markets, the reason for the collapse in the SPP the previous week.
"While this means the average price paid for pigs overall was higher, making progress on the backlog clearly remains very difficult," AHDB's Bethan Wilkins explained.
GB slaughter during the week was estimated as 182,300 head, well below last week and 2% below this time last year.
Meanwhile, EU prices also remain low, the latest EU Reference was around 115p, and further downward pressure can be expected, AHDB warns.
Carcase weights continue to rise, a further sign of the growing backlog on farms.
Situation worsens on farm, but are we seeing a change of heart within Government?
The NPA continues to learn, sadly, of more farmers culling pigs on farm because space pressures have become too much. With little sign of the backlog easing, the longer this goes on, the more healthy pigs will inevitably be culled and wasted.
However, there is some positive news, as reported elsewhere on the website today. After all the media work, the Manchester demonstration and the lobbying of NPA and others, we are starting to see a shift of attitude and approach within Government.
Members' Area update
An important update on the current situation and the NPA's lobbying efforts has been posted in the Members' Area. CLICK HERE
In a sign of the profile of the industry, the NPA and its chief executive at the moment, New Statesman has profiled Zoe.
In a frank interview, Zoe talks about her first-hand of a mass cull due to CSF in 2020 and explains why a repeat must be avoided at all costs. "To feed, care, look after and nurture these animals, and then to have to throw them in the bin, is a complete waste," she said.
The article is well worth a read. CLICK HERE
At last, some good news. The CO2 crisis had been rumbling on in the background for the past few weeks. While Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had secured a three-week extension of CO2 supplies last month after the Government agreed to support CF Industries in keeping two fertiliser plants open that produce 60% of the country's CO2, a longer-term solution was yet to be found. The meat processing sector was starting to get concerned again.
However, yesterday Mr Kwarteng announced that an agreement has now been reached, securing future supplies of CO2 and seemingly that particular threat to the pig sector.
You can read more HERE
The Morgans have been in the spotlight yet again today. This time it was the turn of BBC breakfast to descend on the Driffield farm to hear Kate and Vicky's views on the current crisis facing the pig sector.
You can view the latest interview HERE (2 mins, 48 sec).
"Come and speak to me Boris Johnson - have the guts to stand up and talk to us"
"I say, Boris Johnson, come and see me. Come and see my farm. Come and talk to the people that I employ because I pay them really well.
"I look after them, as does every farmer in this country. Come and see us and have this conversation face-to-face because this is dire, this is desperate.
"This is not our fight, this is the processors' fight. Come and speak to me, Boris Johnson. Have the guts to stand up and talk to us."
A passionate and eloquent response from Kate Morgan on the Victoria Derbyshire show to the Prime Minister's claims that pay and conditions in the industry are to blame for staff shortages and pig backlog that are currently hurting producers so badly.
You can view the clip HERE
We posted three updates in the Members' Area yesterday. If you haven't read them, CLICK HERE
Batter calls for action on Question Time
NFU president Minette Batters appeared on BBC Question Time last night and, as she has been doing all along, did a great in highlighting the difficulties the pig sector faces and calling for the Government to act.
"As far as I am concerned, this is the start and it has to be resolved," she said. "We know already that some of these pigs are sadly having to be culled. It has to be resolved because this is livelihoods and it is people’s businesses... and, unless we are saying to these farmers that we don’t want a pig industry - and do you know what will happen then?
"We will import pigmeat that is produced to lower standards and what will that say to the British consumer who wants to have high quality, high welfare British pork? This has been a human disaster for those pig farmers who are absolutely distraught."
Immigration policy analysis
This makes really interesting viewing for anyone interested in how the Government's immigration policy and priorities are affecting the economy and in particular the farming sector.
It is Lewis Goodall on Newsnight examing the Prime Minister's claims about the impact of 'uncontrolled on immigration', using and other countries as a comparison and looking at the short-term folly of suddenly creating labour shortages. It also explores long-term questions around skills and training.
You can view it HERE
As is the case every day, there has been lots more coverage of the situation, including Sophie Hope's front pager - see earlier post. The Morgan sisters have also been very prominent.
You can see them on ITV's This Morning programme calling for temporary butchers visas HERE (4 mins in).
Vicky was also on the Jeremy Vine Show today (approx 1 hr, 33 mins)
More in the Members' Area
We have added a new post in Members' Area this afternoon, this one regarding our response to the big drop in the SPP.
Members' Area message
We have posted a reminder on an important topic in the Members' Area. Members, please click here to view.
Keep an eye on the forum, too, and feel free to have your say.
Front page news:
There's a lot to catch up on after a short hiatus (apologies). So keep your eye on the blog today.
Pig price plummets as cheaper pigs move through the system
In more bad, but not entirely surprising news, the latest AHDB price updates shows the SPP fell by a massive 4.75p last week to 148.82p/kg. This puts it 9.4p below where it was a year and 3.5p down on the five-year average.
The measure has been affected by some particularly low prices paid by abattoirs for batches of pigs outside contracts, in many cases for export, as the market finds an outlet for some pigs killed with only minimal butchery, according to AHDB. It warns that this could be the case for several weeks to come, depending on how long there is a backlog of pigs on farms.
The oversupplied EU market, where pig prices contine, is also be affecting price of all British pigs, amid concerns some retailers are importing more EU pork.
One of the clearest indications of the scale of the backlog is rising carcase weights - they averaged just short of 91kg last week, 700g heavier on the previous week, a huge leap, and more than 4kg heavier than the same week a year ago.
You can read more HERE
NPA confirms that culling has started in small numbers
The NPA is aware that culling has started on a handful of farms, with fears this could become more widespread unless solutions are found.
Pigs 2021NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We know of a handful of farmers who have had to cull some pigs - around 600 we are aware of in total.
"There has been no mass culling yet – although I do believe this is the next stage in the process."
You can read more HERE
Mass media coverage continues
We are still seeing astonishing levels of media interest in what is happening to the pig sector - the small NPA team, elected representatives, producer and allied members and, of course, many connected to the #SaveGBBacon movement have done a fantastic job of telling the story.
No-one can be in any doubt that the media, public, politicians and supply chain, at home and, increasingly abroad, know what is happening.
There are far too many to list, but here are just a fraction of some of the latest articles and appearances, including:
BBC News - Pig cull threat not being taken seriously by PM, says vet
Politics Home - The Pig Industry Thinks The Cabinet Is Split Over Visas As Mass Cull Continues
Sky News - 'Grown men in tears': Hundreds of pigs culled with farms overcrowded amid butcher shortage
Independent - Cheap EU pork flooding market as cull of unwanted pigs begins at UK farms
The Financial Times - UK pig farms cull healthy animals amid labour shortage
New York Times - Britain’s Christmas Lament: Meat Shortages and Delivery Delays
The Times - Pig farmers accuse Boris Johnson of not taking cull seriously
Essex Daily Gazette/Standard - Essex farmers say pig industry 'beyond breaking point'
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...
Let's start here (but not dwell too long on it).
Charlie on LBC...
The volume of media interest, and the potential benefits of this, cannot be over-estimated at the moment. So many people are giving their time, in Manchester today and beyond, to explain to the wider world what is happening and put some pressure on - and it really does make a difference.
There are just too many to list at the moment, but here's a good one by the NPA's Charlie Dewhirst for LBC that is well work a watch and listen.
And here's Zoe on Times Radio.
Reflections on today’s demonstration at the Tory Party Conference...
Head to the forum now for thoughts on what happened today in Manchester and what might happen next from somebody who knows a thing or two about effective industry protests.
Pig industry gathers in Manchester
The UK pig sector is coming together at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester to raise awareness of the plight of the industry and to seek much-needed support from Government.
Johnson throws pig industry under a bus - furious industry reaction to car-crash Marr interview
As Britain's pig producers stare down the barrel of an horrific pig welfare cull due to shortages of butchers in processing plants, the industry looked on in shocked disgust as the Prime Minister appeared to treat the whole thing as a bit of a joke.
Interviewed by a well-informed Andrew Marr on Sunday morning, Boris Johnson played down the prospect of an on-farm welfare, pointing out bizarrely that the pigs are going to be slaughtered anyway.
When Mr Marr pointed out the obvious stupidity of the remark - pigs being slaughtered and incinerated versus going into the food chain - the Prime Minister added: “If I may say so, the great hecatomb of pigs you describe on farm has not taken place. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”
Mr Johnson went on to blame the industry for the staff shortages in abattoirs for not paying enough or creating attractive working conditions. While the industry is calling for temporary visas, he spoke of not wanting to return to 'uncontrolled immigration'.
You can read more HERE
Unsurprisingly, his comments prompted a furious industry response on Twitter.
"This is absolutely disgusting… I’ve never seen such wilful disregard and disrespect in my life. You should be ashamed @BorisJohnson This is your mess. Time to fix it," NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said on Twitter.
There were many more like this.
If you haven't done so yet, please visit the Members' Area for an important message about the industry's response to the crisis. CLICK HERE
We are grateful to the CLA, which has put its weight behind the cause, urging the Government to act on butchers' visas to ease the pig backlog.
Full story HERE
Media interest continues
The huge media interest in the sector's plight continues, with more coverage over the past 24 hours and many more interviews lined up.
Here is just some of the recent coverage, including of the NPA's open letter to retailers:
Could all members please take a look in the Members' Area for an important message on the pig industry crisis.
AHDB one-month levy holiday request confirmed
AHDB's chairman Nicholas Saphir will write to Defra Ministers formally seeking permission for a one-month pork levy holiday to support producers reduce the pig backlog.
The plan for a levy holiday was announced by AHDB Pork Board chairman Mike Sheldon at last week's Pigs Tomorrow conference.
You can read the full story HERE
Explosion of media interest
We have seen an explosion of media interest in the pig sector's across the national media and internationally.
NPA staff and producers across the country have been explaining the dire situation on farms and making the case for support from Government and the supply to avoid a welfare disaster - and the coverage appears to be escalating, with numerous requests coming in.
Thank you to everyone who has put themseves forward - it really does make a difference.
We don't know if the Government is fully aware or intends to help. But what they really should know now is that the longer this situation goes on and the more serious it gets, the louder the noise will become.
The pig sector will not fade away while others stand back and watch. It will fight for its future.
Here is just a fraction of the recent coverage:
Yahoo Finance/Reuters - Britain facing mass cull of pigs due to butcher shortage
150,000 pigs to be culled unless Government acts - Minette tells Newsnight
She warned that 150,000 pigs could be culled unless the Government issues visas to allow more butchers into the country.
Mrs Batters described the current labour shortage situation within the find chain as ‘exceptionally serious’ with 43% vacancies in the processing sector, including a ‘massive shortfall’ of butchers, a 35% shortfall on seasonal farm workers and 11% on drivers.
“We have a got a real crisis situation building in the pig sector, whereby pigs are not coming through onto the marketplace as they are being held back on farm. This will be an animal welfare crisis if it is not resolved.
“We have been looking at a welfare cull potentially of 150,000 pigs. This cannot happen – it is potentially a week/10 days away and it has to be resolved.”
Defra weekly labour survey - take part to add weight to ge debate
Defra is running a weekly survey to collect data on workforce shortages and HGV shortages, allowing them to track changes in shortages over time.
This will help it support discussions within Government and present a clear evidence base as to the current experience of Defra Sectors. The survey is anonymised, and raw data will not be shared outside of central Government.
You can access this week’s here: https://defragroup.eu.
The deadline for completing the survey is 5pm today, Thursday September 30.
A follow up survey will be issued next Tuesday.
Wake up Government! This is not just for Christmas...
Another great interview from Zoe on Farming Today this morning, highlighting the Government's failure to act to support the pig sector when it had the chance.
We desperately need a rapid rethink from the Home Office on issuing temporary visas for butchers, following the move to grant 5,500 visas for poultry workers.
You can listen to the interview HERE (8 mins)
"The poultry visa scheme we understand is largely about turkeys," Zoe said. "For Government, this is about saving Christmas. That is really disappointing for us because we have been trying for weeks on end to try and get them to understand that this situation is about animals’ lives, it’s about welfare on farms.
"It is a critical situation that is getting worse. The one opportunity they had to do something meaningful, they completely ignored it and rebuffed us."
Zoe acknowledged that temporary visas would only be a short-term fix, but, critically, anything that can boost the labour supply would enable the industry to into the backlog and ease some of the immense pressure building up on farms, which in some cases are on the verge of having tio cull stock.
Longer-term, she urged the Home Office to take a fresh look at its immigration and recognise that some sectors, such as meat plants, cannot fill their labour requirements with domestic, despite huge efforts to do so.
NPA issues press release demanding action on butchers visas
You might have already seen on the website that the NPA has issued a press release today expressing our 'extreme disappointment' that the Government has ignored the pig sector in its recent announcements on visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers.
“We desperately need those visas, even for a short period of time to help us get rid of the backlog. This is not just about saving Christmas, which seems to be the Government’s sole focus, but about protecting pig welfare and averting an environmental disaster," Zoe says.
The NPA is also asking retailers to play their part in reducing the backlog by prioritising British product over imported.
You can view the full press release HERE
And thank you to everyone who has written to their MP, particularly since this latest blow for the industry. We are aware of some powerful letters already that have been sent - they do make a difference and we need to leave no stone unturned - so keep them coming!
Hitting the Russian airwaves
The UK Government might not be listening, or even remotely interested in the plight of the UK pig sector - but the Russian media is.
The NPA team and numerous producers who put themselves for interview have managed to spread the message of what's going on far and wide. This includes - and thanks to Ceva's Eduardo Valezquez for highlighting it - the main Russian news channel.
And if you ever wondered how Zoe's name was spelt in Cyrillic, well here it is.
Forum call to action
"Come on we need some action!.. We have to be heard, this is criminal," says the latest poster on the forum.
To view the post and have your say, CLICK HERE
Temporary visas for poultry workers and HGV drivers
The Government has announced it is adding 5,500 poultry workers to existing visa schemes, alongside extra visas for HGV drivers.
But there has been no mention of any movement on pork butchers, despite the growing backlog of pigs on farms cause by labour shortages in processing plants.
The problems this is causing on farms on the processor perspective were highlighted on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours on Thursday, featuring Lincolnshire pig farmer Meryl Ward and the BMPA's Nick Allen.
It is well worth a listen HERE
Fuel crisis to prompt visa change of heart?
The Government is, according to reports, finally about to accept industry calls for temporary visas to help ease some of the crippling shortage of HGV drivers that is starting to cause panic amid fears of fuel shortages.
Sky's deputy political editor Sam Coates reports that the Government is 'on the brink of a U-turn' over visas to try and ease the shortfall, which has been estimated at more than 100,000.
While, as far as the food sector is concerned, this would only be part of the solution, but it would, if it happens, be welcome and a sign that the Government will act when it needs to.
Are we ready for this?
A message from Richard Longthorp: Is the UK Government ready for this? It seems we are being pushed inexorably towards it.
SPP drops again
The EU-spec SPP dropped by another 2.06p to average 154.31p/kg last week. It is 5.49p behind the price for the same week a year ago, but still 1.78p above the five-year average.
UK prices are coming under pressure on two fronts - the staffing problems facing processors, meaning they are unable to take the numbers coming forward and falling EU prices due to over-supply. The EU Reference price is currently 118p/kg, with Denmark at 115p/kg, Germany 113.5p/kg and the Netherlands just 102p/kg.
Slaughter at GB abattoirs was estimated to be 173,200 head during the week, 4.3% lower than the week before but, encouragingly, 6% above a year ago.
Carcase weights up by another 800g on the week, averaging 89.7kg, highlighting the extent of the backlog - average weights are now 3.4kg heavier than a year ago.
Planning for a welfare cull
Pig producer Sophie Hope has told BBC Points West that some pig producers are having to plan for a welfare cull as pigs continue to back on farms.
"I really hope it never comes to this, but we have to plan for it in case," she said. "t might that a welfare cull has to take place if farmers run out of space. But that is the situation that some farmers are in and they are desperate. I have seen the anguish on their faces an it's bad."
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies was also interviewed on the labour shortages in processors that are at the heart of the problem. She said the industry desperately needed a quick injection of skilled labour from wherever we can find it.
You view the feature HERE
Re-think on CO2 supply chain needed
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has called for a rethink of how the CO2 supply chain is structured, after the Government reached a deal with CF Fertilisers to resume fertiliser production one of its UK plants.
You can read more HERE
Food supply chain urges to PM to act on labour supply
The NPA was one of 12 organisations to put its name to a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to implement a COVID Recovery Visa as a matter of urgency to alleviate crippling labour shortages across the food supply chain.
This followed an emergency roundtable convened by the NFU. The organisations behind the letter are united in the short and long-term measures needed to solve this issue:
- The introduction of a 12-month COVID Recovery Visa which would enable all involved throughout the supply chain to recruit critical roles as a short-term response to labour shortages.
- An urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the impact of ending free movement on the food & farming sector, in the same way it is doing for adult social care.
You can read more HERE
AHDB proposes one-month levy holiday
AHDB Pork has proposed a one-month pork levy holiday to help pork producers reduce the backlog of pigs off farm at lower prices.
The levy holiday, which was agreed by AHDB’s board today and has to be ratified by Ministers, was announced by AHDB Pork chairman Mike Sheldon at the Pigs Tomorrow conference in Leicestershire on Tuesday.
He said the move would be worth approximately £800,000 to the industry, which he said would go a significant way towards sending pigs to slaughter at a loss to ease the backlog, which he said appeared to be the best option available.
You can read more HERE
Agreement reached to restart CO2 production
The owner of two UK fertiliser plants whose shutdown sparked a food supply crisis has agreed to restart production after talks with the government.
Sky News has reported that the government has reached agreement with CF In