Julian Hunt British pig farmers have been told to end their “unfair” attacks on the integrity of Danish meat or face a massive counterattack by producers across the North Sea. Anne Birgitte Lundholt, managing director of industry group Danske Slagterier, said her members were becoming increasingly frustrated with the accusations being made about their production standards by farmers in this country. And she warned: “Our patience is not inexhaustible”.

Lundholt would not be drawn on how or when the Danes would retaliate. But she said: “We cannot live with one of our main markets saying our product is inferior. “Of course, we need to tell the market in one way or another why we think our product is a quality product.” However, Lundholt also made it clear that the Danes wanted to sit down with their British counterparts to thrash out their differences. They wanted to end what she called the “acrimonious debate” that had surrounded pigmeat production for the past year. And she “sincerely hopes” that British farmers will accept the Danes’ offer of peace talks. “We believe there is little point in protracting a bitter public debate, which is confusing and irrelevant for most consumers, and indeed may well deter some from buying pigmeat at all,” she told the Oxford Farming Conference.

Lundholt said the only way forward was for the entire industry to adopt a “more positive, less adversarial approach” that would boost overall consumption and so help all producers overcome the problems they were now facing. Lundholt received a surprisingly warm reception at the conference. But earlier in the day feelings were running high, and agriculture minister Nick Brown received plenty of flak from British pig farmers. Brown said he sympathised with their plight, but added: “We have to find a way through and that means securing the premium that British products should get in the market. But it’s a marketing led strategy that will get the industry through and not calls for extra cash from taxpayers.”