Pig Industry welcomes EFRA inquiry

BPEX has welcomed the government's decision to undertake an investigation into the state of the English pig industry.

"We have had a number of meetings with government in the widest sense and so far as we are concerned for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee to spontaneously say it is holding an inquiry into the pig industry is fantastic news, " said Chris Lamb at BPEX.

EFRA has developed four simple questions as part of its consultation that ends on 11 September. Lamb said BPEX would be responding to it, as would the National Pig Association and large number of pig farmers and those in allied industries.

EFRA has already pencilled in some dates for receiving oral evidence in October. The formal report could be published at the back end of this year or the beginning of next year. "It all depends on how complicated the answers are and how quickly the inquiry can be concluded, written up and published," said Lamb.

To the first question posed by EFRA: What is wrong with the pig industry in England? Are present problems more than just a cyclical imbalance between supply and demand? BPEX's response will be an emphatic yes as it believes what has gone on in the past year has been exceptional because of the soaring feed costs.

Its response to the second question - Are domestic pig welfare standards a principal reason that English producers have problems competing with those outside the UK? BPEX's answer is a simple yes they are the core of it because the UK has higher welfare costs therefore it cannot compete on a level playing field.

To the third question: What could supermarkets and the hospitality industry do to alleviate the pressure on the domestic pig industry? BPEX's reply is that industry needs to be looking at supply chains which do and don't work.

The final question posed by EFRA in its inquiry: Can the Government do more to support the industry either directly or through its public procurement policies? BPEX's response is yes as the government departments buy a fair amount of fresh pork and sausages and they would be setting a good example for other to follow.

Lamb said BPEX hoped the final report would show that there have been exceptional problems in the domestic pig industry and there were some meaningful solutions on how the industry could solve these so they don't occur in the way they have in the future

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