Vicky Ford, MEP for the East of England, has renewed calls for people to support the British pig farming industry by buying British bacon and sausages this Christmas.
Earlier this year Mrs Ford visited Blacks of Bacton outdoor pig unit with representatives of the National Pig Association (NPA) and learnt how the Black family had been independent pig farmers since 1926, but had recently decided to give up, meaning their own herd of 1,500 sows will be sent to slaughter. UK pig farmers have been campaigning for years for a level playing field on welfare issues so that their prices are not undercut by continental producers. The new rules are meant to be coming into force in January but farmers in many countries are not compliant.
Following the visit, Mrs Ford wrote to UK retailers and supermarkets to ask what steps they were taking to ensure the meat they supply was compliant, and she has since received replies from all the major UK retailers outlining their plans to guarantee compliance.
Mrs Ford explained: "The UK pig industry is facing great uncertainty and pig farmers across the region have been struggling to compete against their European counterparts since 1999 when the UK introduced higher welfare standards for pigs and banned the use of sow stalls. There is meant to be an EU ban from the end of this year but it is now clear that despite years of notice, farmers in some other countries have not complied.
"This means that not only are our own pig farmers across the East of England facing a huge increase in grain prices, but they are also having to compete with exported pork products which can be sold at a much cheaper price as they do not meet the same quality standards. I would urge everyone to get behind our struggling farmers in the East of England to save our bacon and sausages - when you are shopping for your chipolatas for your Christmas lunch, buy British and look for products with the Little Red Tractor logo - this tells consumers that the product can be traced back to a British farm and guarantees that it meets the standards required."
Chairman of the NPA, Richard Longthorp, added: "The NPA appreciates the work that retailers and processors are doing to ensure that they only supply pork and pork products from legal systems after the 1st January, however there is still a long way to go. Pork product manufacturers must also be held to account for their sourcing policies, particularly in light of new information from the EU Commission which suggests many countries are falling way behind their predicted level of compliance. As there are only a few weeks to go until the partial sow stall ban comes into force the Commission will need to act swiftly in the New Year and crack down on those countries that have failed to comply."
My Political Priorities
Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.
I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.
Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.
I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.