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'It is easier to fly my pigs to China than the EU'

3rd Mar 2021 / By Alistair Driver

It is easier to export pigs to China than to our near neighbours in the EU, Northamptonshire pig producer Charlie Thompson told BBC Look East.

Charlie Thompson BBCAnd as the media interest in the pig sector’s plight continues, Young NPA vice chairman and Essex producer Jack Bosworth has told Channel 4 his family business stands to lose £300,000 this year – an unsustainable situation.

Crazy situation

Mr Thompson runs Bridge House Farm, a nucleus unit that exports live breeding pigs all over the world, including for the first time in 2020, to China. Exports make up 20% of its trade, but it has been unable to send any pigs to the EU so far this year.

“It seems absolutely crazy,” he said. “We can still fly those pigs to China, but we cannot do anything in Europe at all at the moment because there are no border control posts at any of the European ports that we can access from the UK.”

Charlie explained that he was losing money by having to send pigs to slaughter, rather than selling them on for breeding and highlighted the additional bureaucracy his business was now facing, having to comply with EU and UK rules. “We seem to have almost doubled up on the paperwork burden,” he said.

The programme highlighted the backlog of an estimated 100,000 pigs on farms and featured NPA chief executive Zoe Davies, warning that we are ‘nearing crisis point’ and need to find solutions to reduce the backlog.

You can view the feature HERE (16 mins, 40 secs)


Jack Bosworth C4In his Channel 4 interview, part of a wider feature on Brexit bureaucracy, Jack described the current financial outlook prospect of losing up to £300,000 this year as ‘terrifying’, as the Brexit issues compound the falling pig price and rising costs, leaving producers typically losing around 20p/kg.

He is losing around £20/pig and the programme highlighted how pigs backed up on farms continue to eat 4kg of feed per day.

“I certainly won’t be in it for a long time if we are going to do that. I think we could see anything up to 15% of producers in the UK go out of business if this goes on much longer.”

You can view the feature HERE