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Cumbrian pig farmer warns of cheap imports threat
A CUMBRIAN pig farmer has added his voice to industry wor-ries over threats to pork production in Britain.
The National Pig Association (NPA) has warned that British pork roasts, bacon and sausages could be consigned to history if consumers are not prepared to pay more for their meat.
The NPA likened the threat to the problem of low milk prices faced by the dairy industry – saying that many of the UK’s pork producers could go out of business unless retailers and consumers turned away from cheap imports and backed the British pig industry.
Gary McClure, who breeds pigs at Brough-ton-in-Furness, blamed rising feed, fuel and other overheads for much of the problem, but he said the wet summer had also made a contribution to the problems of the free range pig industry.
“Supermarkets are buying subsidised pork products from abroad and it’s not a level playing field. It hasn’t been for years,” said Mr McClure. “The British consumer needs to understand what’s happening and be prepared to pay a fair price for British meat. Although my costs continue to go up, I haven’t put my sausage prices up for 18 months.
“Thankfully, there are signs that consumers are getting wise to the situation.”
The NPA said it was in a ‘race against time’ to save British pork, claiming that 10 per cent of the country’s pig production could be lost by the end of the year.
Industry experts fear that British pork could disappear from super-market shelves as the market becomes flooded with meat produced outside Europe to lower ethical standards.
Zoe Davies, general manager of the NPA, said she was in urgent talks with stores and processors to find a price that could keep the British pig industry viable.
“If supermarkets see a surge in demand for a British product, they may be persauded to pay our farmers the few pennies a kilo more they need,” she said.