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NPA urges members to embrace unique opportunity to shape industry's future

18th Apr 2018 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA is urging members to engage in what it has described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the pig sector to shape its own future.

Ed NewburyThe association is seeking views from members to inform its response to Defra’s Command Paper on the future of food and farming. Members are being contacted directly and questions are being posted on the NPA website, including regular updates on the forum.

But time is rapidly running out - the consultation closes on May 8. 

Speaking at the association's South Central Regional meeting in Newbury on Tuesday night, senior policy advisor Ed Barker said the Command Paper covered ‘pretty much everything from skills to labour, trade and market volatility’.

But one of its core purposes is to seek views on a new domestic policy, based on the principle of ‘public money for public goods’, to replace the Common Agricultural Policy.

For the pig sector, this could include funding to support producers investing in new buildings and equipment to help reduce antibiotic use and deliver high animal welfare. It could also incorporate investment to support the UK’s export drive. “Denmark has 20 people in China working on exports, whereas we have one. Would this be a good use of funding?” Ed said.

“Defra have told us to be as ambitious as we would like – they are very much open to ideas. They will have this £3 billion-a-year fund and they want to know whether we want our share of it.  

“We have set out a broad range of questions and we need members’ views, whether you just want to answer one or two questions or all of them. The more input we have, the better case we can put.”

Most responded to document

An NPA member in the audience said the Command Paper was expected to be ‘the most responded to document ever’, with the Civil Service expecting 100,000 replies. A lot of these will be from outside farming, pushing, in some cases, anti-farming agendas, he said, stressing the need for ‘active farmers’ to make their views known in large numbers.  

Chief executive Zoe Davies added: “It is key that people engage in this because it will affect every single one of you – there is no doubt about that. You can’t wait to see what happens and then whinge about what comes out of it you don’t say anything now.

“For us, it is all about what sort of things would make your life easier. This is a great opportunity for us. This will affect your lives for a very long time.”

Policy services manager Lizzie Wilson added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – we must not let it slip by. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But plenty of others will be asking.”

How to contribute 

  • To view the Command Paper, click here
  • Members have been sent lists of questions we want to hear your opinions on
  • We are also posting questions on the forum. Click here to visit and respond
  • See our story from last week setting out the context and singling out some key questions
  • To send us your views on any of the questions, please email
  • As well as feeding your views into us, we would like to encourage members to respond directly to the consultation. One way of doing this is via the multiple choice questions here
  • We need responses as soon as possible - the deadline for this consultation is May 8 but Zoe will need to collate the answers into the NPA response well in advance. So don't delay! 

Some of the key questions...

Public goods

The Government wants to know what you think constitutes a public good. The main focus of the ‘public money for public goods’ policy will support to enhance the environment on farms, for example soil quality and increased biodiversity.

But Defra also wants to know what else people think should constitute public goods. 

The document asks you to rank the top three from the following options:

  • World-class animal welfare
  • High animal health standards
  • Protection of crops, tree, plant and bee health
  • Improved productivity and competitiveness
  • Preserving rural resilience and traditional farming and landscapes in the uplands
  • Public access to the countryside.

We want to know what you think constitutes a public good on your farm.

  • Is producing high quality, affordable food a public good? (why isn’t it on the list?)
  • What about things you do to improve animal health and welfare and reduce antibiotic use, provide employment and training for young people and look after and enhance the environment?

How would you like to see support delivered for the public goods you provide? For example:

  • Grants for new buildings and equipment that helps improve efficiency and productivity and deliver animal health and welfare gains.
  • Support to use and pioneer new technology on farm
  • Tax relief on investment
  • Interest free loans
  • Incentives to employ and train young people.
  • Are there are other ways you think the pig sector could be supported?

Farming excellence and profitability

The Command Paper seeks views on how Defra could best support farmers to deliver public goods. This includes the following questions: 

  • What are the main barriers to new capital investment that can boost profitability and improve animal and plant health on-farm (list all that apply i.e. planning system, labour, uncertain future regulation)?
  • What would be the easiest ways for Government to help address these concerns (grant funding, change to tax system, change to education/training)?
  • What are the most effective ways to support new entrants and encourage more young people into a career in farming and land management? What are the existing barriers?

Fulfilling our responsibility to animals

Defra poses the following question: 

  • Should Government be funding pilot schemes which incentivise improved welfare?  If so what might these look like?

You might also have been following the debate over Method of Production labelling. See our views in this Pig World article. Defra wants to hear your views: 

  • Should Government be pushing for method of production/slaughter labelling on retail packs? Please explain why/why not.

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