Farmers swap wellies for video cameras

Pig farmers from across Britain have swapped their wellies for television cameras to make a documentary - The Pig Issue - about the difficulties currently facing their industry.

The British pig industry is in crisis. The high cost of feed over the past year means many farmers have sustained significant losses, with the industry as a whole losing over £150m.

In that period, average retail prices for pork have gone up by about £1.60p but only around 26p of this has reached farmers. At the height of the crisis farmers were losing on average £26 per pig.

Pig farmers receive no subsidies and if they do not get a fair return soon, many may still face the prospect of going out of business. That means consumers and caterers will lose the choice to buy higher welfare Quality Standard Mark pork, bacon, sausages and ham, warn industry leaders.

The ongoing crisis in pig farming is reflected by the announcement of an inquiry into the industry by the House of Commons' Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

In The Pig Issue, a three-part documentary, the farmers will talk about their campaign, the problems they have faced and look at the supply chain from farm to fork to see how they can get a fairer deal. Part one will focus one the supply chain from farm to supermarkets and butchers, part two will look at the food service sector and part three will cover public sector purchasing of pork and pork products.

Richard Longthorp from East Yorkshire, one of the farmers behind the filming, said: "Prices have risen but the industry has lost millions upon millions of pounds. More money still needs to pass down the chain to farmers. This documentary is just the latest stage in the Pigs Are Worth It! campaign."

"We recorded our own campaign song - Stand by Your Ham - which really helped raise awareness," said Kate Morgan, who farms in East Yorkshire. "So we thought, 'why not make a film as well?' We want to show people that we're still under a lot of financial pressure."

Apart from Longthorp and Morgan, the pig farmers involved in the filming are Vicky Scott from East Yorkshire, Stephen Thompson from South Yorkshire, Alistair Butler from Suffolk, Tom Allen from Oxfordshire and Cameron and Muriel Naughton from Wiltshire. The series will be released on the campaign website www.pigsareworthit.com in the coming weeks.