Scotland’s pig industry launches 6-point plan to ‘reset, restart and recover’

Pig farmers in Scotland have set out a list of six priorities to map out how they plan to “reset, restart and recover” following Covid.

NFU Scotland said it recognised that “resetting and restarting” post-Covid-19 would provide significant opportunities for the industry.

As a result, each of the union’s commodity committees and working groups – combinable crops, livestock, milk, pigs, poultry and specialist crops – have identified key steps and actions needed to reset each sector.

For those producing pigs, the priorities are the following:

  • Ensure the abattoirs and processing facilities continue to keep open and operating.
  • Secure greater commitment from the majority of retailers to stock more Scottish pork.
  • Increase the range of Scottish pork products available in retailers to secure better carcase balance.
  • New impetus to ‘Specially Selected Scottish pork’ brand.
  • Availability of grant support to allow new investment in buildings that improve the environment and welfare.
  • Build on existing successful self-funded pig health schemes.

Pigs working group chairman Jamie Wyllie was quick to praise the efforts of the abattoir and processing sector in keeping supply chains open throughout the crisis.

Wyllie said: “I want to thank the staff in our abattoirs and processing facilities for continuing to work throughout the crisis, allowing pigs to keep moving.  Without their efforts, we would have been in a lot of trouble on farms.

“As we start to emerge from lockdown, it is important that we continue to focus on support and activity towards keeping our abattoirs and processing sectors functioning.

With panic buying now over, and retailers returning to more normal supply lines, we want to work with them on widening their product range to help carcase balance and reduce reliance on imports.

“At the same time, we want to see a greater commitment from all retailers to stock more Scottish pork. We have seen Aldi re-commit to all Scottish pork in recent weeks and we would want to see others do the same.

“Covid-19 has provided a sharp lesson on the need for locally-produced food, which retailers must get behind.

“Securing increased sales would be complemented by a new marketing push being given to the Specially Selected Scottish Pork brand.

“In ensuring the Scottish pig sector is fit for the future, we want to get in place longer-term grant options that would support investments that deliver environmental and welfare benefits to our businesses and buildings.”