I had an email today from the Pigs Are Worth It campaign, because I signed their petition for higher prices to be paid to farmers for pork.
The problem is that feed costs are almost twice as high as they were a year ago. However, as the campaign reports,
'Due to price pressure from supermarkets, farmers are now being paid around £1.10 per kg for a pig that now costs them £1.44 per kg to produce. For every pig a farmer rears and sells, he is likely to lose over £20.'
The campaign is asking supermarkets,
'to pay an extra 34p per kg to help preserve British pig farming. If this price
rise were passed on to shoppers, it would only mean between 7p and 17p on the
pack price of typical pork products.'
I have every sympathy with British farmers, and it's not that I personally mind paying extra for the higher welfare pork which is produced in this country. However, there is one thing about this campaign that sets my teeth on edge. This is, that the way it is pitched buys right into the supermarkets' claim that they have no alternative to charging the prices they do.
We all know that supermarkets make massive profits. In 2006 Tesco reported profits of £2.2 billion - that's around £34 for every man, woman and child in the country, or £136 for my immediate family. Or, to put it another way, the extra 17 (or 7) pence on 800 (or 1943) packets of bacon. So I should think they can well afford it.
The pig farmers have recorded Stand By Your Ham, a version of the Tammy Wynette classic updated to put the point across about the dire state of the pork industry. You can listen to it here. It was so dreadful it made me laugh and cry at the same time. Very best of luck to them.