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Pig sector 'next in line' for Government intervention on supply chains - Prentis

7th Dec 2021 / By Alistair Driver

The pig sector is next in line for Government regulation to ensure fairness in the supply chain, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis has told MPs.

Victoria prentisDuring a debate on the contribution of food and drink to the UK economy last week, Shadow Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner questioned Mrs Prentis on progress with the pig industry support package.

He quoting the NPA figure of 16,000 pigs culled on farm that have been notified, but said the actual figure 'is sadly likely to be much higher'. 

He also urged the Government to look at the wider supply chain issues. “We know that under the Agriculture Act 2020, the Government are bound to produce a report on food security by the end of the Session. That is within two weeks,” he said.

“We also need fairness within the supply chain. We have heard about the power of the retailers, and the imbalance of power. What we are seeing at the moment, I fear, is that although consumers may be benefiting from the price competition between retailers, they are just pushing the pressure down the supply chain harder and harder, which is not sustainable.

“Perhaps she (Mr Prentis) could tell us something about where the Government have got to on those supply chain contracts, and on dairy contracts, the consultation on which was, of course, a while ago.”

Mrs Prentis acknowledged that labour is a major challenge across the industry due to ‘a very tight labour market’.

“We are working closely with the Home Office to introduce temporary visa solutions: for example, for poultry workers before Christmas, ensuring that turkeys will be on the table; and for butchers. Other mitigations for the pig sector include the slaughter incentive payment scheme and the private storage aid scheme,” she said.

She said the work on the dairy supply chain was ‘coming to fruition’. “It has been a difficult and sensitive piece of work. I hope that we will be in a position to regulate next year, and pigs are definitely next on the list in terms of supply chains,” she said.

Mrs Prentis highlighted the role of former Tesco boss Sir David Lewis on the new supply chain advisory group and the new industry taskforce, which she said will look to pre-empt future issues.