The National Pig Association (NPA) has today (Monday, February 19) published its General Election manifesto, which calls for supply chain fairness and preventative measures against African swine fever (ASF).

The association’s three main priorities for the pig sector are: a supply chain that “works for all”; investment in Britain’s biosecurity; and protection for animal health and welfare.

The NPA said there is a need for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) contractual practice review into the UK pig sector to lead to “concrete actions and a mandatory code that better protects primary producers”.

The association said that this can be done by distributing risk throughout the supply chain more proportionately.

“This code must cover the entire supply chain, including retailers, so costs and pressures are shared more equitably,” the NPA said.

“The NPA also wants to see more done to promote British pork through clearer country-of-origin labelling, more public procurement of home grown produce and investment in export markets.”

NPA chair Rob Mutimer said: “The UK pig sector is currently in recovery mode following a disastrous two-year period that saw producers suffer huge financial losses, resulting in a significant contraction of the breeding herd.

“To get back to where we want to be, delivering high quality pork products for the nation, produced to the very highest standards, we need the next government to support us by making the food chain fairer, protecting our borders and taking a balanced and collaborative approach to regulation.”

African swine fever

The NPA said the lack of resources for border checks for high-risk goods moving from the EU to Britain poses a “grave threat” to the UK’s biosecurity and ability to prevent diseases like ASF.

The association is therefore calling for improved and increased border controls for meat imports and for sufficient resource to be made available at major ports, such as Dover.

It is also asking for an “urgent ban” on all non-commercial pork imports, removing the current 2kg limit, and strict penalties for any individuals caught bringing illegal meat into the UK.

The association also wants a review of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) resource and expertise to ensure it is capable of responding quickly and effectively to notifiable disease outbreaks.

Animal welfare

The NPA said the British pig sector has led the way in making the UK a global leader of animal welfare.

Its manifesto makes two calls with the aim of maintaining this status.

The first is for the next government to take an evidence-based approach to animal welfare policy and work side by side with the industry on future policies, particularly in relation to reform of farrowing systems.

The second is an insistence that future trade deals must not give access to pork produced in systems that would be illegal in the UK.