Dorset pig farmer shocked by falling prices for cull sows

A Dorset pig farmer is urging government and supermarkets to do more to support producers struggling with low prices and rising input costs.

Robert Lasseter spoke out after revealing on Twitter that he sold seven sows for £ 4.51 each before Christmas – while before Brexit the animals were making around £ 150 each.

Pig and field crop farmer Mr Lasseter, who farms 160 ha in the Corton Valley, including 250 sows, said the tweet had received more than 650,000 impressions since Dec.31.

See also: Outlook for agricultural activity 2022: the pig sector must focus on the consumer

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defra Ministers Victoria Prentis and George Eustice have been tagged – but Mr Lasseter has received no response from them.

“It is the worst situation of my agricultural career and that includes the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in 2001,” he said. Farmers Weekly.

“Whatever the cause – and for me it’s more politics than the pandemic that got us to where we are today – it’s a truly dire situation. “

Brexit and oversupply

Mr Lasseter, who voted to stay in the EU, blamed the fall in prices on Brexit and oversupply.

“The continent’s supply has effectively been cut. We have to pay customs duties to export our pork, but imports are duty free. It depends on our leaders and on a consequence of Brexit, ”he said.

“We also have a serious labor shortage, especially in slaughterhouses and on farms. It also depends on our national policy.

He urged the NFU and agricultural insurance organizations such as Red Tractor to step up efforts to ensure a fairer position in the supply chain for pig farmers.

“It’s incredibly one-sided and the farmers are getting a bad deal,” he added. “Does the industry really need to rethink and no longer be independent from the rest of the supply chain? “

Mr Lasseter said supermarkets should also increase pork prices and give a fairer share of the profits to primary producers. And they should stop replacing British products with cheap imports, he insisted.

“Lidl and Aldi are doing a good job of supporting the countries they trade in, as it seems to me that our own UK supermarkets are all on the verge of ‘stacking it up and selling it cheaply’.”

German exports collapse

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), said around 90% of UK cull sow carcasses typically go to Germany for processing into sausages, patties, salami and other cold cuts.

But Germany had stopped taking British cull sows due to the crisis in its own pork industry.

“They are inundated with pigs and they still don’t have an export market because of African swine fever,” Dr Davies said. “They also had issues with Covid in the [processing] plants.

“Brexit is part of the problem. We are no longer part of the EU, so why should we consider ourselves a priority? “

Dr Davies said paying pig farmers “peanuts” for their cull sows could soon see transport costs exceed the price of any sale. This would result in farmers slaughtering more healthy pigs on the farm and lower replacement rates, she added.

Healthy pigs “still being slaughtered”

She also said the government’s package of measures to support the pig industry, including temporary visas for up to 800 butchers to come to the UK to work in slaughterhouses for up to six months, had not resolved The problems. “Pigs are always slaughtered on the farm – they go in the trash,” she added.

Dr Davies said Agriculture Minister Victoria Prentis is committed to making the pork industry the next industry in the spotlight after dairy.

The NPA has also called on the Committee on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to investigate the crisis in the UK pig industry.

Defra said the pork industry was struggling for a variety of reasons, including a very tight supply and staff shortages ranging from 12 to 23 percent overall, reduced exports to China which created a backlog of pigs. for the internal market, which requires more butchering, and carbon dioxide problems which have caused disruption to slaughterhouses.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to monitor the market and officials are meeting weekly with representatives of processors and pork producers to discuss the current situation.”

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