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News 530 views last update:Oct 30, 2008

UK: Farming minister pledges help to pig farmers

The UK's new Farming Minister Jane Kennedy has pledged to help pig farmers tackle the threat of high input costs and their 'sense of powerlessness' when dealing with big retailers.

The Farmers Guardian reports that Kennedy's recent visit to a pig farm in Yorkshire had helped her understand key issues facing the industry and her overarching aim was now for a thriving industry across the UK.

Disconnection
“The farmer I visited was very clear that despite the fact that he had some of the best animal welfare provisions in place, the supermarkets were not meeting him even halfway to meet his added costs.It appeared to me that there was a disconnection between the policy statement from big retailers and what actually happened when their buyers are at work,” she said.

Kennedy said it was not Defra's role to dictate the relationship between producer and retailer and expressed her desire to listen to industry thoughts on how to mitigate the adverse impact of the UK's 'better' regulation. She argued that clearer and more effective labelling would allow consumers to support farmers that employed better animal welfare standards.

Insufficient information
“My experience as a consumer is that there is not sufficient information on the labelling of pig products to be able to judge their welfare standards,” she said. Defra will now prioritise gathering evidence in order to make a judgement on how to improve labelling.

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