English pig producers call for £3.2m Covid support package

The National Pig Association and numerous processors have called for a £3.2m compensation package
The National Pig Association and numerous processors have called for a £3.2m compensation package

The English pig sector has called for a £3.2 million Covid support package to recognise the impact of overweight pigs on producers' businesses.

The request, by the National Pig Association (NPA) and processors, follows similar schemes in Scotland and NI that reflect Covid-related losses suffered by producers.

The UK pig industry has been hit financially on two main fronts by the wave of outbreaks in pork plants.

Higher carcase weights as a result of the backlog of pigs that has built up has led to price deductions being imposed by processors.

Meanwhile, the suspension of Chinese exports from key plants, including Cranswick’s Watton, Pilgrim’s Ashton and Quality Pork Ltd’s Brechin sites, are costing the industry an estimated £600,000 per week.

The NPA submitted a request in March to Defra for a £3.2m compensation package for producers that reflects deductions for overweight pigs.

The group's chief executive Zoe Davies said Defra had 'taken a very keen interest' in the plight of the pig sector in recent months.

While she admitted it would be unprecedented for the government to award this type of funding, she said these were unprecedented times.

Ms Davies said: “The entire UK pig sector has been hit by this situation and, given that compensation has been paid to other sectors, such as dairy, we believe we have a very justifiable case."

Additionally, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has highlighted the £15/pig loss to processors from the China export suspension.

Chief executive Nick Allen said this was based on the difference between what the Chinese market pays and what can be earned in alternative markets for the pork.

With the Watton and Ashton sites typically killing around 40,000 pigs a week, it is costing the industry around £600,000 per week, he said.

The news follows the Northern Irish government issuing pig and poultry producers almost £2 million worth of Covid-19 support funding.

The scheme, announced last month, will provide a £4m to farmers who saw their income fall last year due to the pandemic's impact.