Defra's pig crisis denial in hour of need


By Claire Taylor, The Scottish Farmer (UK)

Nov 19, 2021


DEFRA WAS accused this week of failing to listen to the demands from the pig sector in their hour of need.


During a heated evidence session of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Defra secretary George Eustice told members that it wasn’t until this September, that pig processors raised concerns over labour shortages and that their main concern had always been on regaining access to the Chinese market.


His comments were met by furore from other members of the committee, who pointed out that organisations like the National Pig Association had been in crisis talks with Defra over labour concerns since February.


Efra chair, Neil Parish, accused him and the government of not acting early enough: “The fact we are having to slaughter pigs, cull them on farm, blatantly shows the government did not act in time.”


Mr Eustice told the committee that the UK Government had acted quickly to support the sector once it was aware of the scale of the challenge and that the situation was now under control. “We will clear the backlog (in pigs) by the end of February or March. Then the gestation period for pigs and the fact that farmers are now culling some sows, and reducing their output to bring supply and production back into balance, means by next summer, we anticipate things will be stable again,” he claimed.


Mr Eustice announced that overseas butchers recruited...