The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decline in the UK’s breeding pig population; and what steps they are taking to support British pig farmers.
Lord Benyon (Con): There has been a 15% decrease in the pig breeding herd in 2022, but this should be seen alongside a 10% increase in 2021. The number of fattening pigs has remained fairly constant over the past decade due to productivity improvements in the sector so this has masked the steadily falling number of breeding pigs. A number of factors, including high feed and energy costs, have led some producers to not put breeding pigs back into production. This is a commercial decision for producers.
In July 2022, Defra launched a UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector seeking views on potential improvements that could be made to ensure a profitable and productive future for the industry. The consultation was carried out in response to recent challenges experienced by the sector, due to global pressures including rising costs and labour shortages, which raised questions about the functioning of the supply chain. The consultation closed on 7th October, and we are currently analysing the responses to the consultation and will publish a Summary of Responses, outlining the main findings, in early 2023.
To further support the sector Defra is working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education on addressing recruitment and retention of domestic workers in the pig sector.
Defra continues to keep the pigmeat market under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group. UKAMMG monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade, and recent developments.
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