Defra is convening a British pig industry crisis summit on Thursday to address ongoing problems in the sector.
The summit, which will take place on Thursday February 10 at Defra‘s London headquarters, follows calls from the National Pig Association (NPA) and NFU in England for everyone in the pig supply chain to get together and discuss ways to alleviate problems in the sector.
The organisations said the ongoing labour crisis in meat processing plants has resulted in more than 170,000 pigs waiting for slaughter on British farms, with estimates 35,000 healthy pigs have been culled and destroyed as a result of the backlog.
The NPA said the summit will look at various ways action could be taken to speed up the processing of British pigs and ease the backlog on farms.
Representatives from the supply chain will also discuss what can be done to attract butchers to work in pork plants, and how retailers can increase their demand for and promotion of British pork.
According to the NPA, it could take until late spring or early summer to ease the backlog of slaughter-ready pigs on British farms, and the immediate financial outlook for producers shows little sign of improvement.
NPA chairman Rob Mutimer, who will be attending Thursday’s summit alongside 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.”
A Defra spokesman confirmed the summit will take place on Thursday and said: “We continue to engage closely with the pig sector, and will shortly bring together producers, processors, retailers and exporters to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by the industry.”