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Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the pig industry on Government assistance for that sector; and if he will make a statement. (263909)

As Minister for Farming and the Environment I have met representatives of the pig industry and producers on a number of occasions to discuss what the Government can do to help the industry achieve profitability and long-term economic sustainability.

It is clear from my discussions that it is most important that all segments of the pig meat supply chain should come together in a spirit of co-operation to jointly address a number of issues that have a significant impact on the economic health of the pig industry. These include public sector procurement policy; country of origin labelling and the burden of environmental regulations.

In response I have therefore set up the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force which brings together for the first time producers, processors, retailers, consumer groups and the Government. The first meeting of the task force took place on 18 March when a work programme of outcomes and targets will be agreed. The work will be remitted to –sub-groups of co-opted experts who will urgently take the work forward to completion by the end of the task force's planned lifetime.