Top of the Chops
Pig farmers from across the country swapped their macs for microphones yesterday in a bid to raise awareness about the plight of the pig industry.
The group gathered at London's Fortress Studio to record 'Stand By Your Ham', a reworking of the Tammy Wynette classic 'Stand By Your Man'. Farmer and semi-professional singer Hugh Crabtree was appointed as musical director and MTJ reporter Carina Perkins joined in with the chorus.
The 'Pig Aid' event - which was attended by local and national press including an ITV film-crew - was the brainchild of Barney Kay, general manager of the National Pig Association (NPA). The lyrics of the song reflect the crisis currently faced by the pig industry, with the majority of farmers losing up to £26 per pig they raise. The industry as a whole faces potential losses of more than £200m in the next year.
"It is a slightly tongue-in-cheek way of raising public awareness about a serious issue and putting pressure on the retailers to give producers a fair share of the profit," said Kay.
"Our surveys have shown that consumers are happy to pay more for high-welfare British pork and retailers have put up their prices, but we haven't seen a penny of that yet.
"Producers costs have rocketed. There is no way that we can absorb these costs, no matter how efficient we are, and the power to save the industry is now in the hands of the supermarkets."
With many pig farmers in crisis, 'Pig Aid' is just one part of the industry's desperate campaign to push up pig prices before it is too late.
Pig Aid singer and Suffolk farmer Peter Havers said: "Recording the single was a great experience, I just hope that it is going to help.
"Personally, I have given myself another month to make the decision about whether to continue producing pigs or not. If pig prices do not go up by 20-30p per kilo very soon, a large part of the industry will be forced to walk out.
"I work for the Farmer Crisis Network helpline and we have had six crisis calls this week from farmers who simply cannot afford to feed their pigs. It is heartbreaking to hear farmers in such a desperate situation, when all we need is a small increase in price - an increase that will barely be noticed at retail level."
'Stand By Your Ham' will be available to view at www.pigsareworthit.co.uk from Friday evening (21 February). Visitors to the site can also sign an e-petition to register their support for British pig farmers.