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Pig industry crisis summit to take place on Thursday

7th Feb 2022 / By Alistair Driver

The pig industry crisis summit, bringing the supply chain together to thrash out solutions to the worsening situation on pig farms, will take place this Thursday, February 10, it has been confirmed.

Pigs 2021Defra is hosting the summit at its London headquarters, with pig farmer representatives and individuals from processors and retailers either attending in person or dialling in.

The summit, which Defra agreed to host in response to a joint request from the NPA and NFU, will look at various ways action could be taken to speed up the processing of British pigs and ease the backlog on farms.

Among the topics for discussion will be how the Government support package could be used more effectively to increase the throughput of pigs, what more could be done to attract butchers to work in pork plants and how retailers could increase their demand for and promotion of British pork.

The summit will take place against a backdrop of a deteriorating situation for British pig producers. The backlog was estimated by Defra at 170,000 finishing pigs in early December and has grown since then, with producers increasingly running out of space and being forced to consider the last resort of culling pigs on farms.

Producers are also taking a huge financial hit, as they are having to feed more and larger pigs on farm for longer, while in some cases receiving less for heavier pigs that have gone out of spec. The situation is compounded by record feed costs and falling pig prices, meaning many pig producers are losing thousands of pounds each week.

The current projections are that it will take until late spring or early summer to eat into the backlog, while the immediate financial outlook for producers shows little sign of improvement.

The NPA expects the roundtable to deliver progress and has already fed in several key outcomes that it wants to see, including a written report on the output of the roundtable so that we can follow up on commitments made.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer, who will be attending the summit with NPA chief executive Zoe Davies, said: “This is the third roundtable that has been held since the start of this crisis, so we really need to see something tangible out of it.

"Many pig farmers are now utterly desperate – and we need to try and find urgent solutions to get things moving, and also to share the burden of all this more evenly. We must act collectively now to save the British pig industry.”