Government uncover key obstacles and issues in ongoing pig crisis
Defra minister Victoria Prentis recently convened a second meeting with producers and processors to discuss the ongoing crisis in the pig industry. While it was clear that progress into the backlog of pigs is being made there is still a long way to go and producers are far from out of the woods.
Many processors are working extra-long hours to try and help, but there are only so many hours that staff can be asked to work. This is why an extension to the Slaughter Incentive Payment Scheme beyond the end of March would be a great help to keep up the momentum.
Due to their size the larger pigs can cause breakdowns in production lines and machinery which causes the line to shut down whilst repairs are carried out.
Whilst progress is being made with increased slaughterings there are still many overweight pigs in the system that continue to cause issues at farm level and in the processing plants. Due to their size the larger pigs can cause breakdowns in production lines and machinery which causes the line to shut down whilst repairs are carried out. With processing capacity and labour at full stretch, it is unfortunate that as yet a solution to removing these pigs from the system has not been found.
Adding additional pressure to the situation (and a topic that was clearly at the front of everyone’s mind in the meeting) is the massive hike in feed prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is no doubt that this will very quickly put enormous pressure on food supply chains for the foreseeable future with very serious ramifications.
Minister Prentis has also convened a separate meeting with the retailers. We can only wait to see the outcome of those talks, but it’s important to stress that any changes at retail level are done in consultation with the processors. Without that cooperation and dialogue it will be very easy to upset the carcase balance and make things worse not better by precipitating unintended consequences.
Finally, access to China was also discussed at the meeting. Progress has been slow in getting UK plants re-listed, particularly when compared to the progress that France has made on this front recently to regain access for their meat businesses through robust action by the Macron government.