NPA, BPEX and others are this week formulating plans to alleviate the effects of the current feed price spike.
The national herd will see a further and possibly dramatic decline if the high feed costs seen over the past few weeks are not offset by higher pig prices.
NPA estimates the industry has lost around 7,000 sows over the past few months. And several more producers have indicated their decision to stop serving sows.
As always in a situation like this, the people concerned don't wish to be used as publicity vehicles for industry campaigning, and few would censure them for that.
The problem for industry tacticians is that the current crisis comes hard on the heels of last year's chronically high feed costs.
•The industry ran its much-applauded Banners Blitz campaign throughout 2011.
•In March it held a high-profile rally outside Downing Street.
•In July it campaigned outside Tesco's annual general meeting in Nottingham, handing out leaflets to Tesco directors and shareholders.
Whilst a high-profile rally cannot be ruled out, and BPISG has stressed that direct action certainly cannot be ruled out, industry leaders appreciate the danger that such activities might do no more than create "white noise", given all the activity last year and the current campaign to put tuppence back into the milk price.
Therefore the pig industry's 2012 campaign is likely to major on compiling hard facts and using them in tough negotiations with retailers.
This will be supported by stepping up publicity targeted at consumers, politicians, retailers and foodservice.
The industry will stress that if it is given urgent assistance today, it will be in a position to help offset the likely decline in pigmeat supplies from the continent through 2013, as the partial stalls ban comes into force.
There have been occasions in the past when retailers have been sceptical about the industry's gloomy forecasts.
On this occasion they should have no problem recognising that the feed cost crisis has blown up quicker than anyone could have predicted and will cause a significant fall-out in production if more money is not fed down the supply chain.
One producer observed at this week's BPEX board meeting that this time round there are no immediate foodchain villains — just very unpleasant circumstances caused by a combination of volatile weather, volatile commodity trading, depressed demand, intense competition in the high street, and of course the weakness of the euro.
In his words, "We're all in this together and we must work together to find a solution, or we won't be around to meet consumer demand after January 2013".
A second strand to the current campaign for British pig industry survival is to provide the necessary management tools on the BPEX website to help producers minimise (as far as is possible) the impacts of high feed costs.
Meat Trade News Daily Supporting British Pig Farmers
Source: Pig World
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