Britain’s pig farmers have warned the next UK Government that it must ensure the country’s ability to produce high-quality pork products isn’t fatally undermined by double standards being applied to post-Brexit trade deals.
“If pig producers’ needs are ignored in pursuit of other goals, the consequences could be catastrophic for the industry,” said National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Richard Lister, launching the sector’s election manifesto.
Despite believing Brexit could offer opportunities for the pig industry, Mr Lister challenged the country’s political leaders to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit; grow the pig industry with supportive government policies; maintain animal health and welfare standards and retain sufficient access to labour.
That would mean the next government delivering fairness on tariffs; equivalent standards for exports and imports; better border controls to keep the UK free of ASF, and new support for pig farmers.
In terms on helping pig farmers progress in post-Brexit Britain, NPA said the previously unsupported sector will definitely need support under a new domestic farm policy, helping producers invest in modern production facilities so they can deliver good animal health and welfare and reduce environmental impact.
“The UK pig industry is in a good position to thrive on a global scale if the next government gets it right,” added Mr Lister, highlighting industry fears concerning the threat of cheap imports in the post-Brexit era.
“We know from the painful experience we gained when the UK unilaterally banned sow stalls in 1999, the devastation that follows when policies hamper domestic producers while inviting cheaper imports into our market, often produced to standards that are illegal in this country.
“This resulted in a mass exodus of domestic producers unable to compete in an unfair market.
“It must not be allowed to happen again.”
The manifesto also includes a demand for the UK to adopt a more joined-up approach to protecting the pig sector from African swine fever (ASF).
“We are disappointed with the lack of rigour shown by the border authorities to raise awareness of ASF risks, or adopt robust measures to keep the virus out,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.