Hundreds of pig farmers from around the country descended on Downing Street on 3 March to campaign for a fair deal from supermarkets and processors.
Farmers handed in a petition to No.10 and asked MPs and peers to sign a giant 16-foot sausage model to show their support. Celebrity supporters at the rally included Christine Hamilton, Liz McClarnon and Sharron Davies, all of whom have previously taken part in campaigns to promote Red Tractor pork.
“This was an SOS to supermarkets, processors, consumers and MPs. We invited supporters to come to the rally outside Downing Street to show their support and Sign our Sausage,” said Barney Kay of the National Pig Association. “UK animal welfare standards are among the highest in Europe. If British farmers cut pork production or go out of business, consumers will lose the choice to buy high welfare, high quality pork and could also face far higher prices in the long term as supply falls.”
Richard Bacon MP, a long time supporter of pig farmers, said: “Pig farming makes a valuable contribution to rural economies up and down the UK, including in my own constituency. I am pleased to be a part of this campaign and do all I can to help pig farmers fight to protect their livelihoods. Supermarkets are not currently fulfilling previous commitments to stock higher levels of British pork and I hope this is something we can change.”
Pig farmers won a temporary reprieve in 2008 when they faced a similar crisis. “The situation today is worse,” said Barney Kay. “Feed prices look set to stay high for the foreseeable future. Most farmers are currently losing around £20 per pig produced, which is obviously disastrous. We need around another 30p per kilo to break even.”
At the rally, farmers gave a “live” performance of their campaign anthem, Stand by Your Ham, which generated worldwide publicity when released in 2009. Max Mason, of Big Bang fame, said there was a great turnout and sent me this picture:
Over the past few weeks pig farmers have been running a home-grown advertising campaign to encourage consumers to buy Red Tractor pork. More than 500 banners have been erected in farmers’ fields next to busy roads and railways lines.