How the NPA is supporting the industry during the biggest crisis in a generation
3rd Sep 2021 / By Charlie Dewhirst
The current crisis facing the British pig industry is the most challenging in a generation and has come about as a result of a ‘perfect storm’ of unique events and circumstances.
No-one could have predicted that Britain’s departure with the EU would coincide with a global pandemic, a poor harvest pushing up costs and a disease outbreak in Europe leading to an oversupply of cheap pork. Each of these events on their own might have been manageable but together they have created enormous problems.
From the outset, the NPA has been working tirelessly to represent members and ensure that the industry’s voice is heard loud and clear by decision makers in Westminster and Whitehall.
Each week since the start of the crisis, we have met with key Defra officials, including the Secretary of State and Farming Minister, to educate them about the dire situation and push for more support.
We also work closely with MPs and Peers from across the political divide and regularly update the Shadow Farming Minister to ensure that the Opposition are well informed.
In addition, we meet with retailers and processors to make sure that the supply chain is working together as far as possible and we have had great success in securing media coverage, highlighting the plight of our farmers.
Members are playing a key role as well. Every letter or email to a local Member of Parliament gives the industry a louder voice and holds Defra to account. Every chance to meet those politicians or speak to the media and tell them their story firsthand amplifies the case even further.
We want to encourage members to keep up the intensity so that local politicians feel compelled to support the industry and raise these concerns with Ministers.
The NPA recently met the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, to try and resolve the problems some processors have had exporting to China. These are hugely complex issues which go far beyond the pig industry into international diplomacy but we continue to bang the drum.
Furthermore, the publication of the Grant Thornton labour shortage report last week, which calls on the Government to introduce a 12-minth COVID-19 Recovery Visa, has brought the entire supply chain together and demonstrated the severity of the situation.
Aside from these urgent issues, we are also fighting the battles for the longer term sustainability of the industry. Legislation and regulations which impact the use of slurry, transportation of live animals and the future of farrowing, to name but a few, are a key focus for the NPA as we fight on multiple fronts for the pig industry.
These are all problems which, if left unchallenged, would cause huge damage to the viability of businesses, both small and large.
Commenting on the current plight of the industry, NPA Chief Executive Zoe Davies said: “The last year has been very challenging for the entire industry and the coming months will not be easy.
"However, the NPA will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf to find a path back to profitability and shape a future that will allow the industry to thrive in the decades to come.”