Endangered Species:
The British Pig Farmer
The crisis in the pig farming industry has been a hot topic in the media for
mo...
fresh	outlook
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cost. To help the British pig farmers all you
Case Study 2: ...
of 3

Pork Farmers

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Pork Farmers

  • 1. Endangered Species: The British Pig Farmer The crisis in the pig farming industry has been a hot topic in the media for months, yet little progress is being made. Nikki Haynes investigates and explains why supporting the campaign is a must! PHOTOGRAPHY BPLEX, ELEMENTAL PHOTOGRAPHY, WWW.HELENBROWNINGORGANICS.CO.UK T HIS SUMMER, when you’re long been a staple of the British dinner table, countries. Some may ask “but surely cheaper tucking into the bangers on the in much-loved dishes like bangers and mash, meat is a good thing?” Apart from the barbecue or a ham sandwich toad in the hole and baked gammon – so let’s environmental issues associated with moving on a picnic, spare a thought keep it that way. Things are changing and meat around the world, another worrying for how that meat came to be. we’re not talking about the distant future: it’s fact is that 70 per cent of that imported meat As I write, the British pig farming industry happening now. wouldn’t meet British welfare standards. So is at crisis point, and to label pig farmers the question you have to ask yourself is; do “endangered” wouldn’t be far from the truth. What’s all the fuss? you want to be eating or feeding your family There are a variety of problems including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Chicken Run these products? A survey carried out by the feed price increases and new, stricter welfare series on Channel 4 proved three things about National Pig Association found that 95 per guidelines to adhere to which farmers have how the British public view food today; we cent of British pig farmers would consider been given little support to meet, making are concerned about where our food comes giving it up if prices don’t improve before their livelihoods increasingly challenging from – how it’s reared and produced – and the end of the year, meaning a major pork in the current climate. Unless something is we want to support British producers, but shortage. There would be no British pigs in done about the situation in the near future also (and probably more than ever in today’s blankets this December – Merry Christmas! many pig farmers will be out of a job, and our economic climate) many of us need to be world famous pork and the meat in the bacon able to feed our families to a budget, which The problems butties that so many of us treasure won’t be sometimes means buying the cheapest option. Several factors are contributing to the home-grown any more. The demise of the British pork industry problem. The most significant are: If retailers don’t help these farmers by would hit everybody hard. To ensure its Rising feed prices: feed accounts for almost giving them a fairer price for their pigs, the survival, pork prices will have to increase (not half of the cost of producing a pig. The price consumer will ultimately suffer as well: as necessarily a great deal for the consumer but of the wheat, which is the main ingredient more producers go out of business and British certainly for the retailer, to give the farmers in pig feed, has doubled since last summer. meat becomes ever rarer prices will rise even a fairer deal: how much depends on the According to Quality Standard Pork, by the further, eventually becoming so excessive that supermarkets and government, but more on end of August 2007 the price of feed wheat we’ll have to resort to importing , which is that later), and if it’s a big increase we’ll be was £166 a tonne, 106 per cent higher than neither practical or carbon efficient. Pork has forced to import cheaper meat from other 2006. The reason for this huge price hike is a 90 fresh www.fresh-magazine.co.uk
  • 2. fresh outlook BRITISH PIG FARMERS direct result of a global shortage, for which there are many reasons, including droughts, Case Study 1: poor harvests and growing demand – many Helen Browning’s governments are encouraging farmers to Totally Organic grow biofuels rather than food, despite the shortages, so wheat is in such high demand Helen Browning is one of a few female pig that prices have gone through the roof. farmers in the UK and she runs her business, Market trends indicate that the prices will Totally Organic, from her base at Eastbrook continue to rise over the next 12 months. Farm in the village of Bishopstone on the British pork farmers have to abide by Wiltshire Downs. As well as pigs she has stricter welfare regulations than those in sheep, dairy and beef cattle, veal calves, and the EU. This is fantastic for the pig and the cereal crops, pulses and vegetables. Over consumer, and most farmers would support the past five years she has been working with them, however, these regulations have been other like-minded farmers and helping them passed by the government without offering convert to organic methods and in particular the farmers enough support to implement follow the blueprint for organic pig production them, making rearing pigs more expensive. which she pioneered. The result is a select Food prices in supermarkets have gone up network of certified farms which meet Soil slightly but only a fraction of this is finding Association standards. “I’ve been pig farming its way back to the farmer. On average the for over 20 years now . . . what I think we have seen over the last 20 years is actually a big farmer only receives 28 per cent of the retail improvement in the general welfare of British pigs. In terms of welfare standards generally price, so if you pay £2.29 for six sausages, the we lead the world, but then in contrast, in the last ten years there’s been a massive pig farmer only will only see 64p. reduction of the number of pigs actually being kept in the UK. It’s just bizarre that the On average the pig farmer is losing £27 per British pig industry has got its act together, I mean there are still problems and we could pig (across Britain that’s a loss of about improve further but I think we’ve gone further than most other countries internationally, £3.6 million per week). and at the same time we see more and more imported pork coming in from conditions that we were seeing 10 years ago. And that’s really accelerating at the moment, with feed Save our bacon price increases and everything else more pig farmers are going out of business and what we Quality Standard Mark recently estimated haven’t got is the ability for the consumer to discriminate between products on the shelf that it would only take between seven to that have met the welfare standards that British pork has, and those imported [from places] 17 pence extra (depending on the product) that doesn’t have these welfare standards in place. per pack of Quality Standard Mark pork “That’s a problem with the retail side and another bigger problem is that in places such to make a significant difference to the as restaurants or hospitals you have no idea where the meat comes from. What I think farmers’ situation, as long as this extra might help this is to try and encourage more transparency in the consumer end so that you money all reached them. A YouGov survey have clearer rules about labeling. The prices that the supermarkets pay need to go up, pig last September found that 78 per cent of farmers are losing money on every pig that they’re producing and that’s why they’re going consumers were prepared to pay a few more out of business. Then the supermarkets are competing amongst themselves to get the most pence for pork to support our farmers – so competitive price for the consumer so they’re trying to buy it for as little as they can. This what’s the problem? Some retailers have situation isn’t really reconcilable except through people demanding that they want to buy increased their prices but it needs to happen pork from our welfare systems. In some cases the informed consumer will know that a label nationwide and there has to be a guarantee means that it’s a British product, but if it’s a processed product it’s often very difficult to that this money will move down the chain to tell, especially if it’s in a ready meal or something like that, it’s not usually declared on a the pig farmer – often that’s not the case. pack. There’s also confusion when a product is imported but it’s packed in this country so Back to the present, where farmers are it can look as though it’s a UK product when in fact it’s not. But in the end it’s the farmers being forced into culling their breeding sows, who are the ones who are losing out, the ones who aren’t in charge of how their product as they can’t afford to keep them. Before the will look on the shelf.” crisis about 3,500 sows were slaughtered a week, usually because the animals had Visit www.helenbrowningorganics.co.uk or www.soilassociation.org/organicfortnight reached the end of their productive life: this for further information has now doubled to 7,000, many of which are still of breeding age. And as each sow produces on average 21 piglets a year, this national shortage of pork and pork products (www.pigsareworthit.com). William Sitwell, early slaughter will mean 73,500 pigs out of is a serious possibility.) Editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated, says the food chain within the year. (It’s important So what can we do to help? Well, a few “Save Our Bacon is a vital campaign to help to note that Britain is not alone in seeing its campaigns have been launched in support support British pig farmers, many of whom breeding herd shrink so dramatically – it’s a of the pig farmers, including Waitrose Food are facing ruin. The average pig farmer loses European problem and the end result is that Illustrated’s “Save Our Bacon” (see www. £26 on each pig; a situation brought on by the there will be fewer pigs available for import waitrose.com/food/foodissuesandpolicies/ rising costs of feed, a poor export market and to fill the gap in our production. Hence a saveourbacon), and “Pigs Are Worth It” supermarkets like Asda squeezing them on www.fresh-magazine.co.uk fresh 91
  • 3. cost. To help the British pig farmers all you Case Study 2: have to do is buy British and pay a fair price. Mark Hayward, RSPCA Freedom Food Pig Farmer We have some of the best welfare standards in the world, not to mention the tastiest pork. Mark and Paul Hayward have been pig farmers for over 20 years. Their Dingley Dell Pork is So if you love your bacon, sausages, ham, a family-owned outdoor pig business situated near Wickham Market in the Deben Valley, pork pies and pork scratchings, always check Suffolk, which specialises in breeding and rearing welfare-friendly local pork. The farm the label and make sure you only put British is part of the Freedom Food scheme which is the only RSPCA approved scheme for the pork on your fork.” rearing, handling, transport and slaughter of pigs – so you can be assured that at every It’s really easy to get behind British pig stage of their life the pigs are looked after. In the 20 years that he has been working in the farmers – all consumers need to do is check industry Mark has seen a huge amount of change: “The number of pigs in the UK has halved that packet of sausage, bacon or pork, and for a start so the market has become much more global. As for most of the foreign meat if it doesn’t say British, then don’t buy it. that comes into this country, if we produced it in the same way that they do then we could Big names such as Gordon Ramsay, Heston be put inside for it. It’s crazy isn’t it? That you can have a situation where parliament makes Blumenthal, Rick Stein, Angela Hartnett, a decision to improve welfare, which is good, but then it actually results in more meat the Hairy Bikers and Jimmy Doherty are being eaten from a system that they disapprove of.” just some of the leading foodies supporting Mark mentions that he doesn’t know if the government can really help them, as the these campaigns. If all consumers pledged to biggest problem is the price of the feed, which is a global problem. And his view of the buy pork at a fair price, we could make a big supermarkets? “Well, they’re paying the market price so they’re not doing anything difference to the future of British pig farmers. different from anybody else, but we’ve got some farms that are facing some serious cash flow problems because of the increased feed bill. Is it a fair price? Well it’s the market It’s up to us price but it’s an unrealistic price in terms of feed costs. It is a fair price, but it’s a fair price Farmer Helen Browning summed up the because that’s what they can buy pigs for anywhere else in the world at this moment in situation: “farmers are losing about £26 a pig time. It’s an unreasonable price because it’s not covering people’s costs, so if the buyers and that is a completely unsustainable loss, for pigs are not careful, they will seriously reduce supply for the future and that’s the I know a lot of people who are hanging on problem. There will probably be a lot more farmers giving up this year but I don’t think it’ll in there thinking that surely it has to change, be 95 per cent. For those who are determined and can see this period through I think there surely the price will go up, surely the feed will be some good money to be made because pigs will be in short supply throughout the price will come down, but the only way that world, it’s just the pain of getting there. It would help if the supermarket prices were to this will be resolved is with people insisting go up or if we received a bigger percentage of the retail price. Things have to change to on buying products that come from UK pig account for the cost of feed, and until this changes there will be a continuous decline in the herds, UK pork. That’s the only way this will number of people farming.” be resolved. The retailers will then have to pay a fair price if people are buying sufficient Visit www.dingleydell.com for more information quantities, otherwise they’ll just get away with importing it; if you can get it cheaper then that’s what will happen”. According to Quality Standard Pork in August 2007 the average price of a pig at market was £109.5p per kg. The cost of producing the average pig, including feed, labour, housing, vet bills etc was £143.4p per kg, so, as Helen points out, farmers are making a loss of £26.25 on each finished pig. Now I’m no mathematical genius but figures like that bring home just how difficult it is to make a living producing pork in this country nowadays. By supporting campaigns such as “Save our Bacon” you’ll be playing your part in persuading retailers to pay more for their meat, and by only buying British pork, you’ll show them that you care about where your meat comes from, and that importing cheaper, less welfare-friendly meat from abroad is not acceptable to the consumer. Our British pork is great, some of the best in the world, and it’s the cornerstone of many of our favourite national dishes. Let’s keep it that way and take a stand to ensure we can enjoy British bacon butties for many years to come! 92 fresh www.fresh-magazine.co.uk

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