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FT reports on pig sector request for COVID support

6th Apr 2021 / By Alistair Driver

The Financial Times has highlighted the pig sector's request to Defra for a COVID support package. 

FT COVID support articleIn an article today, the FT reports that the industry is seeking support on two fronts. Pork processors have submitted a request reflecting the significant cost of lost exports to China from plants affected by COVID-19 outbreaks. 

Separately, the NPA is seeking £3.2m to help them producers with the impact of overweight pigs caused by the backlog of pigs on farms due to a combination of factors, including COVID disruption in pork plants and Brexit delays at ports. This has cost them extra money in feed and penalties from processors for animals slaughtered at high weights.

You can read more about the NPA's submission on our website HERE

The FT quotes NPA chief executive Zoe Davies, who said the pressures on the industry had led some farmers to quit - about 15 to 20 farmers with about 10,000 sows in total had recently left the sector.

About three-quarters of pig farmers are operating at a loss, she added. While ministers have not so far committed to financial support, they are taking a 'very keen interest' in the problem, she said.

Scotland and Northern Ireland both announced funding in March for pig farmers affected by coronavirus outbreaks in processing plants.

The article also quotes an official at China’s General Customs administration, who said China began suspending UK frozen meat imports last June after outbreaks in pork factories.

“There is evidence that the virus could stay alive in low-temperature environments. We would rather overreact, than not reacting, when it comes to virus prevention,” the official said. “We will lift the import curb when there is sufficient evidence that the pandemic is under full control in the UK. There is no sign that has happened.”

Defra said: “Although there are a small number of businesses that cannot currently export pork products to China, this issue is not unique to the UK. We recognise the challenges the sector is facing and are closely monitoring the situation.

“Defra will continue to support the affected establishments, working closely with UK industry and the British embassy in Beijing, with the aim of securing the resumption of exports.”