Royal Support for British pig farmers
HRH The Prince of Wales has spoken out in support of Britain's beleaguered pig farmers, who continue to suffer heavy losses due to the high cost of wheat and soya.
In a statement read out on the Prince's behalf at this year's Pig and Poultry Fair in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, Prince Charles said: "I particularly want to take this opportunity to express my deep concern for the pig sector which, I know, is going through an immensely difficult time as a result of the huge rise in feed costs.
"There is a growing awareness of the problem and those retailers who are raising their prices should be congratulated. However, little, if any, of the increase is being passed down the chain to the farmer and, unless urgent action is taken, this country's pig sector, which has never received subsidies, could be decimated.
"This would be a tragedy for this country which produces some of the finest quality pigs and which operates according to the highest standards of husbandry and animal welfare - for instance 40% of British pigs are reared outdoors, something unique in Europe.
"I can only urge consumers to do everything they can to support British pig farmers by buying pork, bacon, ham and sausages which bear the Quality Standard Mark, or which are clearly organic or free-range pigs, raised by British breeders."
The British pig industry remains on the brink of collapse. High feed prices, which have doubled over the past year due to the high cost of wheat and soya, mean that pig farmers are still losing more than £20 on every pig raised.
Although retail prices have seen some increase, with pork up 7.4% in the Retail Price Index (RPI), producers say that not enough money is getting back to the farmers.
Steward Houston, chairman of BPEX, which has been running the Pigsareworthit campaign for fairer prices for British Pig Famers, said: "On behalf of all British pig farmers I would like to thank The Prince of Wales for his support. Retail prices have risen, but nowhere near enough of this increase has reached farmers.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, if this does not happen soon, then many pig farmers face the prospect of going out of business. Then consumers will lose the choice to buy higher-welfare Quality Standard Mark pork, bacon and ham. It is also likely to mean shortages in the long term and much higher prices. But this can be avoided if farmers receive a fair price now."