Debbie & Andrew's fair trade prompts MPs invite

Yorkshire sausage makers Debbie and Andrew Keeble have been invited to Westminster to discuss their Fair Trade for British Pig Farmers.

The husband and wife team of the Debbie & Andrew's brand will meet MPs from all political parties to explain their groundbreaking attempt to save the British pig industry.

Huge increases in animal feed costs have resulted in British pig farmers losing an average of £26 on every pig they sell.

As ex-pig farmers themselves of 20 years, Debbie and Andrew Keeble launched their own fair price scheme in January as a direct response to the industry crisis. The couple are lobbying MPs to encourage the bigger supermarkets and other producers to back their efforts and introduce similar initiatives.

Thirsk-based Debbie & Andrew's pays 15% more for its pork and passes the difference directly to its farmers and processors. So far they have met with Liberal Democrat MPs Tim Farron, secretary of state for countrysides, and Roger Williams, food and rural affairs. More meetings are scheduled this month.

Andrew Keeble said: "We have been lucky, but lots of pig farmers are struggling at the moment, so we took on board the issues and decided to launch our own fair price scheme. If other producers and retailers aren't prepared to stick out their necks, the crisis will deepen, no one will care until all of our farmers have quit and pork prices will go through the roof. Then everyone will be left wondering how this was allowed to happen."

Keeble added that the scheme had so far been well-received. Customers were voting with their wallets and sales are up 20% since its introduction, despite a retail price increase of 30p a pack.

The National Pig Association has calculated that between just 7p and 17p on the price of packs of sausages, pork and bacon would guarantee the future of the British pig industry. Debbie & Andrew's has struck deals to supply its sausages to Morrisons and Sainsbury's stores nationwide.

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