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Pig producers will save a total of £1m after a month-long “pork levy holiday” was announced during November to ease pressure on the sector. £1m pork levy holiday eases pressure on pig producers

Pig producers will save a total of £1m after a month-long “pork levy holiday” was announced during November to ease pressure on the sector.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board took the decision in response to the build-up of pigs on farm, falling prices and high production costs in England. The same decision has been taken by Quality Meat Scotland.

AHDB Pork chairman Mike Sheldon said: “These challenges, in particular a shortage of skilled workers, come on top of pressure on margins largely due to rising feed costs. These issues are extremely concerning and therefore require industry-wide action.

Mr Sheldon added: “AHDB is already undertaking work to help the sector, including providing independent evidence to government setting out the seriousness of the situation, and looking at how together we can support meat processors to ease the supply of labour.”

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution has unveiled a package of support for producers. The charity has introduced access to in-person professional counselling support in response to the emotional impact of the crisis.

RABI said there were high levels of poor mental health across agriculture, with data highlighting particularly high depression rates in the specialist pig sector. Some 47% of pig farming respondents said they were ‘probably or possibly depressed’.

The National Pig Association estimates that more than 8,000 pigs have been culled due make space on farms. RABI spokeswoman Suzy Deeley said the worsening situation and potential of on-farm culls had led to in-person support being made available immediately.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The additional support from RABI has come at a time when our industry really needs it. It is so important that we look after ourselves and others so we would encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed to reach out for the support available.”

A confidential 24-hour pig sector helpline is available on 0800 188 4444.

For more on pig and poultry, read about the pig health scheme.