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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 127352, tabled on 22 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish an action plan to prevent divestment out of pig farming by farmers in England.

Answered on

7 March 2022

We continue to monitor the evolving situation and to work closely with the pig industry to help them respond to challenges caused by the pandemic, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, disruption to CO2 supplies, and a temporary shortage of labour in the processing sector.

We have provided a package of measures to help address these unique circumstances, which includes temporary work visas for up to 800 pork butchers, and Private Storage Aid and Slaughter Incentive Payment schemes to facilitate an increase in the throughput of pigs through abattoirs. Together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and other Government Departments, we are working to both expand existing markets and to identify new export markets for pork, particularly lightly processed pork. We are also working with industry to support their efforts on the recruitment and retention of domestic workers.

On 10 February, I chaired a roundtable with pig industry representatives and retailers from across the UK to discuss the challenges that the sector has been facing in recent months. At the roundtable I announced that we will be launching a UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector. We will be engaging with industry on this with a consultation expected later this year. We want to elicit industry views on improvements to fairness and transparency that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future. Following the Roundtable I met with representatives of the agricultural banking sector. The banks confirmed that they are already being as flexible as possible to support pig farmers during this exceptionally challenging period and remain keen to be supportive.