Pig sector calls for fairness in supply chain and protection of UK borders

The NPA wants to see more done to promote British pork through clearer country-of-origin labelling
The NPA wants to see more done to promote British pork through clearer country-of-origin labelling

The pig sector has called on all parties to act to deliver fairness in the supply chain and to protect borders from diseases like African swine fever (ASF), ahead of an expected election this year.

The National Pig Association (NPA) has today published its election manifesto, setting out three overriding priorities for the pig sector in an election year.

Under the first heading, it highlights the need for the Defra Contractual Practice Review into the sector to lead to "concrete actions and a mandatory code that better protects primary producers by distributing risk throughout the supply chain more proportionately".

This code must cover the entire supply chain, including retailers, so costs and pressures are shared more equitably.

The NPA also wants to see more done to promote British pork through clearer country-of-origin labelling, more public procurement of home grown produce and investment in export markets.

The manifesto goes onto highlight how the lack of resource for border checks for high-risk goods moving from the EU to Britain poses 'a grave threat' to the UK's biosecurity and its ability to prevent notifiable diseases, such as ASF.

More than 65 tonnes of illegal meat products have been seized at the port of Dover since September 2022, despite limited funding, and yet Defra is proposing to slash funding for this vital work.

The NPA therefore calls for improved and increased border controls for meat imports and for sufficient resource to be made available at major ports, such as Dover.

This is alongside a ban on all non-commercial pork imports, removing the current 2kg limit, and strict penalties for any individuals caught bringing illegal meat into the UK.

The association also wants a review of APHA resource and expertise to ensure it is capable of responding quickly and effectively to notifiable disease outbreaks.

Under the third part of the manifesto, the NPA highlights how the pig sector has led the way in making the UK global leader in animal and welfare, including the progress in reducing antibiotic usage in recent years.

The manifesto makes two key calls to help maintain this. The first is for the next government to take an evidence-based approach to animal welfare policy and work side by side with the industry on future policies, particularly in relation to reform of farrowing systems.

The second is an insistence that future trade deals must not give access to pork produced in systems that would be illegal in the UK.

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “The UK pig sector is currently in recovery mode following a disastrous two-year period that saw producers suffer huge financial losses, resulting in a significant contraction of the breeding herd.

“We need the next government to support us by making the food chain fairer, protecting our borders and taking a balanced and collaborative approach to regulation.”