Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, has met with Farming Minister Victoria Prentis to follow up on issues in the pig farming sector which led to 10,000 pigs being culled across East Yorkshire in the run-up to Christmas.

This follows a motion backed by East Riding councillors last month, which instructed the local authority to write to the Government raising concerns on behalf of farmers and asking for it to explore ways to help.

Staff shortages in the pig processing sector have left farmers unable to move their livestock on at the right time, leading to processors slashing prices as the pigs then sent to them are overweight as a result of staying on the farm for longer.

As a result of the falling prices, farmers have been losing around £25 per pig according to East Wolds and Coastal Conservative Councillor Charlie Dewhirst, who also works for the National Pig Association. With only four major processors across the country, and competition from imported pork, farmers are forced to be price-takers when taking their pigs to be processed.

Graham commented, “Given the East Riding accounts for as much as 37% of the entire country’s pig livestock, with these industry issues affecting many of my constituents, I wanted to raise this directly with the Minister so she’s aware of the impact it’s having.

“I’m grateful to Victoria for making the time to see me about this and it was pleasing to hear that the Government is closely monitoring prices, production and outlook for the pig meat sector.

“The Government has already taken some steps to alleviate the problems and I’m glad Ministers are keeping an open mind over whether further support might be necessary.”

Last year the Government announced that up to 800 pork butchers would be eligible to apply for visas through the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme until 31st December 2021, which would allow them to travel and work in the UK for up to six months. This came after a holiday on the pork levy farmers would normally have been required to pay for November 2021.

It has also offered extra funding for a cold storage aid scheme to enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for 3-6 months until they can be processed.