March 4, 2008 / 4:29 PM / 12 years ago

Pig farmers picket Downing Street

A "Miss Piggy" puppet is seen during a protest by farmers against falling pork profits outside Downing Street in central London March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

LONDON (Reuters) - Hundreds of pig farmers picketed Downing Street on Tuesday supported by a real pig named Winnie, a doll of muppet Miss Piggy and a rousing rugby-style chorus of their anthem “Stand by Your Ham”.

They say that unless supermarkets raise the price they pay farmers, producers will be forced out of business.

Farmers are facing soaring global grain prices fuelled by drought in Australia and rising fuel prices.

“I am losing nearly 20 pounds on every pig I sell,” southwest England pig farmer Cameron Naughton told Reuters. “We can only last like this a very short period of time, to be honest. Unless things change we will completely disappear.”

Organisers said that at the demonstration’s height, some 500 farmers and others were outside Whitehall, sometimes breaking into song with their adapted version of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man” — full lyrics on http://www.pigsareworthit.com.

Several MPs joined Winnie while the farmers delivered a petition.

They said consumers had already seen a 10 percent rise in the price of pork products in the last year but that the increase had not been passed on to farmers.

Unlike many other farmers in Britain, pig farmers receive no subsidy. They say they simply need a fair price.

“If we do not get it, then people will simply not be able to get high-quality British pork,” Naughton said. “Pork products will end up being imported, they will be produced at much lower welfare standards for the pigs and a lot of jobs will be lost.”

Reporting by Peter Apps

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