Pig Farming Industry

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 April 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what measures it is taking to support the pig farming industry in response to reported rises in the cost of feed, electricity, diesel, labour and haulage. (S6O-01009)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

Rising farm input costs are significantly impacting all sectors of Scottish agriculture. We have set up the food security and supply task force jointly with industry to monitor, identify and respond to any potential disruption to food security and supply.

Responding to recent market disruption in the pig sector, we provided an initial £715,000 to producers through the pig producers hardship support scheme and extended that with a further £680,000-worth of support. We have also assisted the sector with a private storage aid scheme for pig meat from November 2021 to 31 March this year.

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary will recall that we recently met Jamie Wylie, the NFU Scotland lead on pigs. At that meeting, he raised issues that are reserved to the United Kingdom Government, such as the need for proper border controls to monitor pork imports and for a relaxation of the English language requirements for overseas butchers who are looking to come to work in our processing sector. What discussions has the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs held with the Scottish Government about those matters and their impact on Scotland?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

First, I thank the member for contacting me about the issue and for extending the invitation to meet Jamie Wylie at his farm. It was during that visit that the severity of the issues that pig sector is facing really hit home. They include the significant rises in all input costs as well as the ever-changing date for implementing border controls on imports. Visa requirements were also raised as a significant issue.

On visa requirements for overseas butchers, we are clear that the current immigration system is not responsive enough to labour market requirements. I have personally raised that point with the UK Government on a number of occasions, and I know that the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, together with his Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts, wrote to the UK immigration minister in February to call for immediate changes to the immigration system so that we can address the on-going labour shortages across the UK.

I also want to touch on border controls, which were also raised during our meeting. We engage regularly with the UK Government on those issues, and we expect to be doing more of that in the coming weeks in light of today’s announcement that there is to be a further delay to the implementation of import controls on European Union goods of at least another 18 months. Delays not only put our exporting businesses in Scotland at a competitive disadvantage but present a real biosecurity risk, which will be of significant concern to our pig industry as well as the wider food and drink sector.