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NFU AGM REPORT - New Task Force for Pig Industry

by 5m Editor
18 February 2009, at 9:06am

UK - The British government is to set up a new task force aimed at securing the future of the UK's pig meat industry.

The announcement was made by the farming and food minister Jane Kennedy during the National Farmers Union annual meeting and conference in Birmingham this week.

The Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force will focus on helping the whole supply chain to thrive in a way that is sustainable in the long term. It will bring together key representatives, from all sectors in the pig meat supply chain to increase collaboration between Government and the various sectors in the industry.

The Task Force will examine areas of concern that may include labelling, public sector procurement, endemic disease, and better communications throughout the supply chain.

Ms Kennedy said: "The passion and commitment of Britain's farmers is evident nowhere more than in the pig industry. And while many parts of the industry are highly organised, professional and forward thinking, it does face some serious problems and challenges.

"Everyone involved in the pig meat supply chain has a duty to ensure that there is a fair deal for all and that ultimately includes the consumer.

"Therefore, I am convening a task force for the pig meat supply chain, which will meet for the first time next month.

"The Task Force will be tightly focused on what needs to be done to improve confidence in the long term future of the British pig industry."

Under its draft Terms of Reference, the Task Force will aim to improve the resilience of the pig meat supply chain through increased collaboration and achieving best practice throughout the chain. It may make recommendations for changes but its primary focus will be on increasing resilience within the current regulatory framework.

Ms Kennedy said that she wanted complete transparency within the supply chain, but she added that she did not want the task force to be a talking shop but a practical body that will; get results.

In her speech, Ms Kennedy added that she would also take steps to encourage more public procurement of British produce and she said that she would be taking steps in Brussels to oppose the current "damaging" proposals for Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control.

Ms Kennedy also launched a vision for anaerobic digestion, the process of breaking down organic material such as food waste and farm manures and slurries to create heat and power and transport fuel.

Ms Kennedy said: "We're producing more organic waste in this country than we can handle, over 12 million tonnes of food waste a year - and farmers know all too well the challenges of managing manure and slurry.

"There are alternatives to sending organic waste to landfill. Anaerobic digestion is a true solution.

"This material could produce enough heat and power to run more than two million homes - helping to prevent dangerous climate change by providing a renewable energy source as well as reducing our reliance on landfill."