Rooting for Real Farms: COVID-19 Case Studies


What is the impact that COVID-19 is having on our small scale high welfare pig farmers?

Small scale high welfare pig farms have traditionally struggled to compete with giant factory farms which flood markets with large quantities of low quality meat that are only cheap because their true costs are paid by the broader community.

However, today the fortunes have turned and the horrors inflicted on the health of pigs, people and the environment have come home to haunt the factory farming system, not least in the USA and Canada. Recent events in the USA show that these vertical supply chains, where a few giant multinational companies own the production, slaughterhouse and packing plants, are vulnerable to shocks, not least the present pandemic. With workers in the packing plants becoming sick due to lack of protection in cramped working conditions, farmers in the US and Canada are having to kill their piglets and sows, burying them or using them as fertilizer, as some of the few remaining slaughter houses have closed and there is nowhere to take the fattened pigs.

Though there are no reports of slaughter houses closing due to workers falling sick from COVID-19 in the UK, many large scale businesses are having to reduce their output due to restaurants and hotels closing and receiving reduced prices due to a glut in production. However, the very small and medium scale independent farms in the UK are thriving if they are still able to take their stock to local abattoirs and on to small scale processors either on farm or local butchers and on to farm shops, box schemes and online orders. If we don’t support our local farmers now and into the future, we will lose these more resilient farmers, slaughter houses and markets potentially forever.

A few of these farms have shared their experiences and lessons during the COVID-19 lockdown:

Case Studies