Pig Sector: BMPA Pork Supply Chain Report

British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association
Michael Gove

Analysis of Michael Gove’s Oxford Farming Conference speech

Anyone who heard or has read Michael Gove’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference will have been left in no doubt whatsoever that the environment will be at the heart of the new UK agri-food policy. Whilst this is primarily of interest to farmers, how the support mechanisms are implemented can and will have a profound impact on the numbers of livestock in the country.

Most of the collected information suggests that the current Basic Payment a farmer receives is pretty much what their profit is. If more of the payments have to be earned by delivering environmental benefits or ‘’Public goods’’ as Mr Gove kept referring to them as, then it is almost certain that the farmers will question the viability of keeping livestock.  

There are two factors that impact on profitability: cost of production and selling price. There is much that can be done to improve the efficiency of production but it is highly debatable about how much of an increase in the price of food will be accepted by the consumer before consumption drops.

It was made very clear at the conference that Mr Gove is looking for something new in the Agri food policy going forward with Environment to the fore.

To quote directly from his speech:

“The history of nationalised industries, state subsidies for particular sectors, guilds to restrict access to trades, high tariff walls and all the other tools of so-called economic ‘protection’ is a melancholy one. The road is paved with good intentions – preserving strategic assets, insulating communities from change, protecting our home market, guaranteeing a supply of essentials.”

“But the path inevitably involves higher costs for consumers, lower productivity from producers, less pressure to husband scarce resources, less concern about sustainability, more rent-seeking and capital accumulation, less investment in innovation, less dynamism and ultimately, less security as others forge ahead economically, scientifically and socially.”

“If we want to preserve that which we cherish – a thriving agriculture sector, a healthy rural economy, beautiful landscapes, rich habitats for wildlife, a just society and a fair economy – then we need to be able to shape change rather than seeking to resist it.”

“So Government must recognise that its interventions need to be targeted, proportionate and limited. Subsidies linked to the size of land holding, or headage payments reward incumbents, restrict new thinking and ultimately hold back innovation and efficiency.”

“Industries which come to rely on importing cheap labour run the risk of failing to invest in the innovation required to become genuinely more productive. Labour-intensive production inevitably lags behind capital-intensive production.’’

It will be interesting how this new philosophy takes shape over the next few years. The good news is that he does seem to recognise that the industry needs time to change and adapt and he seems to be willing to find the resources to allow it that timeframe.

Michael Gove photo courtesy of Chatham House    View licence

Nick Allen, CEO British Meat Processors Association

About Nick Allen

Nick is CEO of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) which is the leading trade association in the meat and meat product industry.


Why Suella Braverman’s remedy for the labour crisis won’t work

In an ideal world there would, as the Home Secretary...

Pigs on a farm

BMPA report says Defra’s pork supply chain consultation needs to look wider

BMPA's members sit at the centre of the British meat...

BMPA - Trade body of the year 2022

BMPA wins Best Trade Association two years in a row

BMPA has won Best Trade Association for the second year...

CO2 gas bottles

Situation with Co2 supplies set to deteriorate markedly

This week the security of UK Co2 supplies to critical...

The BBC's visit to @AbpFoods Ellesmere plant gives an excellent insight into what a 21st Century meat processing plant looks like, from best practice animal welfare through to data-driven feedback to farmers and the top career opportunities on offer.
https://bbc.in/3FwuFPt 5:37

BMPA's Nick Allen kicked-off @BBCFarmingToday feature on abattoirs this week with an interview covering economies of scale, retailer demand and labour shortages.
BMPA member @AbpFoods will feature later in the week.
Listen from 4:12 mins.

A food supply crisis caused by labour shortages, plus a loss of trade caused by post-Brexit bureaucracy are back in the news as BMPA's Nan Jones' comments along with a chorus of other voices in this latest Independent article explain. @NanJone44317309