Pig sector forum set up to address Covid-19 issues

The forum will enable pig producers to share the industry's Covid-19 issues with Defra
The forum will enable pig producers to share the industry's Covid-19 issues with Defra

A new pig sector forum has been created to ensure the government is kept aware of the current Covid-19 related problems affecting the industry.

The forum aims to help develop a plan for how to monitor and manage coronavirus issues on pig farms and in pork processing plants.

Factories across the UK have been forced to temporarily close or operate at reduced capacity due to recent outbreaks.

This has resulted in a growing backlog of pigs on farms across the country, causing animal welfare issues in some cases, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).

With widespread disruption coming as Christmas looms, plant capacity is currently stretched to the limit, with little flexibility in the system to cope with excess pigs on farms, it says.

Looking to manages these issues, the forum was created by the NPA to make sure Defra and its enforcement agencies are kept up to date.

“The aim of the forum is to enable us to share information so we can try to manage the backlog of pigs and ensure the industry is better prepared when outbreaks hit,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies.

“We are doing all we can ensure everybody across the supply chain and in government are aware of the situation and working together to find solutions, particularly looking at worst case scenario planning should the need arise."

Ms Davies praised the efforts of processors working to keep plants open and maintain throughput, but said it was inevitable there would be further disruption which the sector needed to be prepared for.

"It’s not something I feel comfortable looking at, but I would much rather we were prepared and had a plan ready to go if needed to avoid a much worse situation on farm," she added.