I am aware that the pig industry has faced a number of challenges in recent months, including the loss of exports to the Chinese market for certain pig processors, global disruption to CO2 supplies, and global labour shortages.
I understand that many pig farmers have suffered at the hands of processors not honouring contracts. I am encouraged, therefore, that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is launching an immediate UK-wide review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector and will engage with industry on this. In addition, other measures introduced by the Government to support the pig industry include funding for a private storage aid scheme in England, enabling meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three to six months so they can be processed at a later date.
Further, I welcome that up to 800 pork butchers were eligible to apply for visas through the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme, allowing them to travel and work in the UK for six months. I am glad that butchers have continued to arrive throughout January and February. I am assured that Defra is working closely with operators to ensure that this process runs smoothly.
Finally, I know that the Government launched a new Slaughter Incentive Payment scheme in January, which will run until 31 March 2022. This scheme will allow for the inclusion of butchered as well as minimally butchered products, bringing it in line with Private Storage Aid. The payment rate for the Slaughter Incentive Payment scheme has been increased to £10 per pig, up from the initial £3. I am assured that this will further incentivise increased throughput at slaughterhouses and provides a larger contribution to the costs incurred by processors putting on additional shifts.
I am confident that these measures will ensure that the pig industry is supported during these challenging times.