The consultation follows recent challenges faced by the sector due to global pressures, including rising costs and labor shortages, which have raised questions about how the supply chain works.
It seeks opinions on issues such as transparency, price disclosure, clarity of contract terms and market consolidation.
It will run until October 7, 2022 and invites pig farmers, slaughterhouses, processors, retailers, marketing groups and all stakeholders involved in the pork supply chain across the country.
Today’s announcement is the latest action by the UK Government and devolved administrations to support farmers as they face turmoil in international commodity markets, exacerbated by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, leading to increased input costs, including feed, fuel, energy and fertilizer.
Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, said: “The pig sector has recently experienced significant challenges, with pig farmers financially impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a marked reduction in skilled labour, increased feed costs and the movement of pigs off the farm for slaughter.
“I am committed to raising the issue of fairness for pig farmers in the market and to further exploring any issues encountered in the pig sector. I am pleased that Northern Ireland stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in this UK-wide consultation and strongly encourage all Northern Ireland stakeholders to respond.
Agriculture Minister Victoria Prentis said: “The past few months have been very difficult for pig farmers due to a range of pressures including rising costs and global labor shortages. .
“We have engaged closely with the sector to help them significantly reduce the backlog of pigs on farms and I continue to work with producers and retailers to support the sector.
“I am a firm believer in ‘Buy British’ and support our domestic pork producers, and a fair and transparent supply chain is paramount.
“I hope the industry will fully engage in this consultation so that we can help address the challenges they face.”
Scottish Government Secretary for Rural and Islands Affairs Mairi Gougeon added: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the continued lack of available skilled labor has had a disproportionate impact on the pig sector.
“It is imperative that we understand the current supply arrangements within the industry and explore the nature of the relationships between different parts of the supply chain.
“I welcome this consultation, in the hope that it will lead to proposals for a more coherent approach throughout the pork supply chain.
“I would like to encourage all growers and processors, across Scotland, to take part in this consultation and ensure their voices are heard on this issue.”
Also commenting, Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said: “These are difficult times for the pig sector and I encourage everyone involved in the industry in the Country of Wales to respond to the consultation.
“This will allow us to gather important information and evidence on how supply agreements in the pork sector currently work and explore the nature of the relationships between different parts of the supply chain.
“We will continue to work together with industry, as well as UK governments, to ensure a resilient future for our Welsh pig sector.”
Once the responses have been analysed, a summary of the responses will be published to present the findings and suggest possible actions.