pig getty

It will now allow animals processed under its Slaughter Incentive Payment Scheme to be sold on the domestic market

Defra has confirmed changes to its pig sector support package in a bid to try and shift the backlog of more than 200,000 animals on farms and ease the crisis crippling the sector.

Its temporary Slaughter Incentive Payment Scheme (SIPS) – which was reintroduced on 14 January to encourage processors to increase throughput in abattoirs and contribute towards the extra costs of operating additional slaughter shifts – will now allow processors to sell product on the domestic market.

Animals slaughtered under the scheme, which followed an earlier iteration launched in November, had previously only been eligible for sale via export markets or for inclusion in Defra’s Private Storage Aid scheme.

The SIP scheme allows for animals to be slaughtered with minimal butchery, by being cut into six bone-in cuts per carcase (two legs, two middles, two shoulders).

Defra had faced calls to extend the scheme’s scope to include the domestic market due to the fact carcases could be sold for a higher price compared to those found in export markets.

The change had been a key ask from the pig sector in the crisis summit hosted by Defra a fortnight ago – which also saw farming minister Victoria Prentis agree to a review of supply chain fairness in the pig sector.


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National Pig Association chair Rob Mutimer said the change to the SIP scheme – which had previously attracted only a limited uptake – was a “much-needed boost to the pig industry” that “should encourage processors to put on these extra kills and, in turn, speed up progress in reducing the backlog”.

The scheme is due to run until 31 March, or earlier if a limit of 100,000 pigs slaughtered is reached, and pays processors £10 extra per pig.

“We are grateful to Defra for listening to our arguments and taking this important step to help struggling pig producers,” Mutimer added.

Defra said the change had been made “following discussions with industry”.

It said it has been working closely with the sector to understand how best to support it in response to the challenges caused by the pandemic, access to CO2 supplies, a temporary shortage of labour (specifically skilled butchers) and the loss of the Chinese market to several processing plants as a result of the pandemic.

“This led to a growing number of pigs backing up on farms and impacted the capacity of processors to slaughter and process pigs. Pig prices have fallen and without continued intervention could rapidly fall very significantly further,” Defra said.