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12th

September 2018
NPANews

Agriculture Bill offers opportunities for the pig sector - NPA


The NPA has welcomed the publication of the Agriculture Bill, setting out the frame-work for a significant shift in farm policy after we leave the EU. 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The Bill, based around the principle of public money for public goods, clearly contains opportunities for the pig sector. 

“This includes, potentially, support for our continuing drive to improve health and wel-fare on pig farms and for investment in buildings, equipment and technology to help boost productivity and deliver better environmental outcomes, alongside these high health and welfare standards. Funding to encourage new entrants and for new re-search could also benefit the pig sector. 

“But the details are all still to be finalised and, as a previously unsupported sector, we will work with Defra to ensure any new initiatives deliver meaningful benefits for the pig industry. It is critical, for example, that new health and welfare initiatives fo-cus on delivering positive outcomes, rather than trying to drive system change, and are delivered in the context the market place pig farmers operate within.” 

The NPA is currently in the process of defining the pig sectors’ priorities under the post-Brexit farm support system. 

Notes to editors 

You can read more about the NPA’s position on Brexit in our Health and Harmony Command Paper response here and in our Brexit Opportunities and Challenges briefing paper here 

More information 

For more information, contact Zoe Davies Mobile: 07814 448956 

Email: zoe.davies@npanet.org.uk 

6th

September 2018
NPANews

Farming industry needs permanent EU workers too


The NPA has stressed the need for the Government to recognise the importance of permanent EU labour after we leave the EU, following today’s announcement on a new seasonal workers’ scheme. 

The pilot scheme will provide visas for up to 2,500 non-EU workers a year to work on fruit and vegetable farms for six months. 

Defra Secretary Michael Gove said the Government had ‘listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable’. 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies welcome the fact that the Government has shown it is listening to industry concerns. 

But she said: “However, it is important that the conversation now moves onto the need for the wider farming, processing and allied sectors to continue to have access to permanent EU labour after we leave the EU,” she said. 

“As our survey of members showed, the UK pig industry is hugely reliant on permanent EU workers to function. We fully support measures to attract more home-grown workers to the sector, but in the short-term we will also continue to stress the need for policies that make EU citizen welcome to live and work in this country. 

“Without them, the UK pig sector will not be in a position to grasp the opportunities Brexit might present in the global or domestic markets.” 

The NPA’s October 2017 survey of members across the pig industry showed: 

 Just over a half of respondents employed at least one non-UK worker, with 24% hiring more than a quarter of their labour from overseas. 

 Around 90% of businesses using non-UK labour employed them on a permanent basis, with 94% of non-UK workers coming from the EU. 

 64% of those employing EU labour said it had become harder to find EU labour since the vote. None said it had got easier. 

 Nearly half of those employing EU labour said EU workers they employed were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty over Brexit. 

Notes to editors 

1) More information on the NPA’s survey of members about access to labour after we leave the EU can be viewed here 

2) The NPAs position on migrant labour can be viewed in our briefing on Brexit’s opportunities and challenges for the pig sector here 

3) NPA chief executive Zoe Davies’ spelled out the association’s concerns when she gave evidence to the EFRA committee. Read more here 

 

More information 

For more information, contact Zoe Davies Mobile: 07814 448956 

Email: zoe.davies@npanet.org.uk 

6th

September 2018
Brussels

Farming industry needs permanent EU workers, too


The NPA has stressed the need for the Government to recognise the importance of permanent EU labour after we leave the EU, following today’s announcement on a new seasonal workers’ scheme. 

The pilot scheme will provide visas for up to 2,500 non-EU workers a year to work on fruit and vegetable farms for six months. 

Defra Secretary Michael Gove said the Government had ‘listened to the powerful arguments from farmers about the need for seasonal labour to keep the horticulture industry productive and profitable’. 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies welcome the fact that the Government has shown it is listening to industry concerns. 

But she said: “However, it is important that the conversation now moves onto the need for the wider farming, processing and allied sectors to continue to have access to permanent EU labour after we leave the EU,” she said. 

“As our survey of members showed, the UK pig industry is hugely reliant on permanent EU workers to function. We fully support measures to attract more home-grown workers to the sector, but in the short-term we will also continue to stress the need for policies that make EU citizen welcome to live and work in this country. 

“Without them, the UK pig sector will not be in a position to grasp the opportunities Brexit might present in the global or domestic markets.” 

The NPA’s October 2017 survey of members across the pig industry showed: 

 Just over a half of respondents employed at least one non-UK worker, with 24% hiring more than a quarter of their labour from overseas. 

 Around 90% of businesses using non-UK labour employed them on a permanent basis, with 94% of non-UK workers coming from the EU. 

 64% of those employing EU labour said it had become harder to find EU labour since the vote. None said it had got easier. 

 Nearly half of those employing EU labour said EU workers they employed were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty over Brexit. 

Notes to editors 

1) More information on the NPA’s survey of members about access to labour after we leave the EU can be viewed here 

2) The NPAs position on migrant labour can be viewed in our briefing on Brexit’s opportunities and challenges for the pig sector here 

3) NPA chief executive Zoe Davies’ spelled out the association’s concerns when she gave evidence to the EFRA committee. Read more here 

 

More information 

For more information, contact Zoe Davies Mobile: 07814 448956 

Email: zoe.davies@npanet.org.uk 

1st

August 2018
NPANews

Pig industry making huge strides in reducing antibiotic usage, report shows


The National Pig Association (NPA) has updated its widely-praised 2016 Antibiotic Stewardship Programme to showcase the tremendous progress made by the pig sector in reducing and refining antibiotic use. 

In a new report published today, the NPA highlights the significant reductions in the pig sector’s usage over the past two years and the extent to which it has embraced data re-cording. 

It demonstrates the how the entire industry - from producers and their representative bodies to vets and feed, pharmaceutical and building companies – is working with sup-port from Government to address the antibiotic challenge. 

The updated Pig Industry Antibiotic Stewardship Programme report, which was compiled with support from members of the Pig Health and Welfare Council’s subgroup on antibi-otics, shows how: 

 Overall antibiotic usage in pigs halved in just two years between 2015 and 2017. The sector is on track to meet its target of reducing usage to 99mg/PCU by 2020. 

 

 Usage of the Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics - 3rd and 4th genera-tion cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and colistin - fell from 0.98 mg/PCU to just 0.1 mg/PCU in 2017. HP-CIAs represented just 0.08% of total antibiotic use in pigs last year. 

 

 Antibiotic data submitted to the pioneering electronic Medicines Book (eMB), which now has a benchmarking facility, covered 87% of pigs slaughtered in the UK in 2017. 

 

 Red Tractor standards have been updated to help drive responsible use of anti-biotics in pig production. 

 

 A new cross-sector Animal Medicines Best Practice training programme was launched by the National Office of Animal Health at the House of Commons in July to educate producers and their staff about antimicrobial resistance and re-sponsible use of antibiotics. 

 

 Farmers and vets are working together to improve biosecurity and disease con-trol on farms to raise the overall health status of the national pig herd. 

 

 

 The feed industry is also supporting the drive, working with producers to ensure optimum nutrition delivers benefits to pig health at the different stages of produc-tion. 

 

NPA senior policy advisor Georgina Crayford said: “We first published the Antibiotic Stewardship Programme in May 2016 to coincide with the findings of Lord Jim O’Neill’s global review of AMR. 

“It outlined the pig industry’s commitment to use antibiotics more responsibly and the progress made in the two years since has been nothing short of staggering. That is tes-tament to the way all parts of the industry have come together to, first accept, then rise to the challenge – this is a truly collaborative effort. 

“This updated report is about fostering further action within our industry, but also high-lighting to the otherwise uninformed the huge amount of activity going on within the pig sector towards this aim. 

“Everybody understands that there is still much more to do. But after reading this report, it will become clear just how hard this industry is working to reduce and refine antibiotic use and improve overall pig health.” 

The report will be sent to MPs who have previously expressed an interest in the subject and will also be made available online for other interested stakeholders. 

Notes for editors 

1) The updated Pig Industry Stewardship Programme can be viewed here 

2) The original programme, published in May 2016, set out a number of priorities for the industry to reduce and refine antibiotic use, including: 

 Capture and collate accurate antibiotic use data from pig farms 

 Benchmark each farm’s antibiotic use against other farms of a similar type 

 Extend education in effective disease control strategies 

 Reduce antibiotic use, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medi-cine 

 Promote veterinary prescribing principles to strictly limit the use of antibiotics of critical importance to human health. 

For further information please contact: 

Dr Georgina Crayford, NPA senior policy adviser 

Mobile: 07551 155654; Email: Georgina.crayford@npanet.org.uk 

9th

May 2018
Brussels

NPA sets out ambitious post-Brexit future for the British Pig sector


May 9, 2018

The UK pig sector has the potential to grow, prosper and deliver real public goods, under a post-Brexit agricultural policy that puts food production at its heart. 

In its response to Defra’s Health and Harmony Command Paper on the future of food, farm-ing and the environment, the National Pig Association highlights the opportunities Brexit brings for the pig sector in the right policy environment. It also outlines the potential pitfalls for the pig industry and consumers if the Government gets it wrong. 

The 53-page document was put together by the NPA team following consultation with mem-bers, who offered valuable insight into the priorities of those at heart of the pig production process. 

Thanking members for their input, NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We are optimistic about the opportunities that Brexit could bring on both domestic and international markets. We see an opportunity for the Government to establish a policy framework that helps the UK pig industry build on its position as a modern, forward-looking sector producing high quality, safe food produced to the very highest standards for a range of markets. 

“But we are also aware of the risks Brexit brings – and we spell these out, too. At the heart of our response is a call for the Government to put food production at the centre of its post-Brexit agenda. If the right policies are in place – we will do the rest.” 

NPA’s key asks: 

  • A fair approach to reducing direct payments to farmers that is proportionate and equal for all. 
  • Clarity on the future regulatory system, improvements to the tax system and grants to help pig producers invest to improve business efficiency and deliver other public goods, such as high animal health and welfare and environmental standards. 
  • Government to encourage early adopters of technology by offering them incentives or grants to trial innovative ideas. 
  • The need for recognition that we already have world leading animal welfare and where food can be produced in the UK it should be, as we have far more control over how food is produced here and can ensure that the key goals on environment, health and welfare are met. 
  • Policies to address potential labour shortages, including the need for schemes to en-courage new entrants into agriculture, starting with fact-based education about food and farming in schools to encourage UK citizens into agriculture while continuing to allow EU workers to fill permanent roles. 
  • Continued access to the European market, while ensuring any future EU trade deal must not make it easier for the UK import pork than to export it. 
  • New trade deals with non-EU countries or trading blocs where fairness and mutuality of standards are maintained. Alternatively, the need for mandatory country of origin labelling on all products, as opposed to method of production labelling, particularly if trade deals are made with countries that have lower standards than ours. 

NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “We believe the UK pig sector can prosper outside the EU. There are plenty of markets out there that would readily take more high quality British pork. But future trade deals must be fair and ensure that export growth isn’t achieved at the cost of flooding the UK market with cheaper, lower standard imports that would be illegal to produce here. It would be lose-lose for UK producers and consumers. 

“We also believe there are opportunities for the pig sector to further improve on delivering public goods. Our document outlines how government can work with the industry in areas such as pig health, welfare and environmental outputs, by helping to reverse chronic under-investment in the industry over the past decade or so. 

“We call for a fair regulatory environment, a supportive approach to public procurement, a better careers pathway from schools and robust measures to protect the nation’s pig health status. Above all we are looking for Government policies that champion an important sector of the economy that is well up for the challenge of adapting to a brave new world outside the EU.” 

Notes for editors 

1) See the NPA’s full Command Paper response here 

2) Policy areas covered by the document include: 

  • Encouraging a new generation of skilled workers into the pig sector 
  • How the UK pig sector can export its products to new markets 
  • How good investment in the sector can achieve numerous public goods, and represent a good deal to the public purse 
  • How welfare schemes can help the industry and the national herd 

3) The National Pig Association (NPA) is the representative trade association for British commercial pig producers, is affiliated to the National Farmers Union (NFU) and rep-resents the interests of NFU members that produce pigs and the pig industry interests of its Allied Industry members. 

 

More information 

For more information, contact Zoe Davies Mobile: 07814 448956 

Email: zoe.davies@npanet.org.uk 

6th

June 2017
Brussels

NPA welcomes reduction in pig industry Colistin usage


The NPA has welcomed new figures suggesting a significant drop in usage by the pig sector of Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort used to treat a number of bacterial infections in both humans and animals.

The latest available UK sales data from 2015 shows Colistin sales into veterinary medicines were already low at around one tenth of the EU recommended limit. 

But preliminary analysis by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance of data received via the new pig e-Medicines Book (e-MB) suggests that use of Colistin in pigs decreased by more than 70% last year. 

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the figures were yet another indication of how the pig sector was rising to the challenge of reducing and refining antibiotic usage. 

She said: "This data shows exactly how seriously farmers and their vets have taken this issue, and proves this is an industry that does what it says it will!" 

Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) president Mark White said: "Veterinary surgeons work-ing with their clients voluntarily restricted Colistin's use last year and this is a perfect example of how vets can and do prescribe responsibly. The key point is the need to conserve use for when it really is necessary." 

RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said the findings meant that once 2016 sales data are re-leased, the UK could be one of the five lowest users of Colistin in Europe. 

He said: “We were looking for significant reductions in 2016 following the best prac-tice guidelines issued by the Pig Veterinary Society at the end of 2015, but this has exceeded our hopes.” 

Mandy Nevel, AHDB Pork's veterinary team manager, said: “It’s very positive to see the pig sector – vets and farmers together – responding to the responsibility of hav-ing continued access to this drug as a last resort and reducing use where possible.” 

Proportionate antibiotic targets 

The NPA has this week submitted a joint proposal with the PVS to the RUMA Tar-gets Task Force for a proportionate long-term target to reduce overall antibiotic us-age within the pig sector. 

Dr Davies stressed that, one year on from the publication of the NPA’s Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, the pig industry has made great strides in reducing and refining antibiotic usage. 

Official Government figures showed sales of antibiotic products licensed for pigs-only were down 24% in 2015, with sales for pigs and poultry down 10 per cent. Further significant falls are expected to be recorded for 2016 and 2017. 

Figures supplied by the feed industry showed the proportion of feed for young pigs containing a prescribed antibiotic fell from 37% at the beginning of 2014 to 18% by the end of 2016, with two-thirds of the reduction taking place last year. 

Dr Davies added: “Concerted efforts are being made to improve education and offer practical advice on responsible use of antibiotics across the industry. And a great deal of work is being done to find alternatives to antibiotics, such as through autoge-nous vaccination, bacteriophage technology and advanced genetic techniques.” 

The eMB-Pigs database, developed and launched by AHDB Pork last year, has now collected the 2015 and 2016 antibiotic records of more than two-thirds of the national herd. 

More data will be made public later this year when the sector-specific targets are an-nounced at RUMA’s conference in association with the Veterinary Medicines Direc-torate on October 27. 

Notes to editors 

1) The NPA’s Antibiotic Stewardship programme, launched in May 2016, has six strands of activity: 

  • Capture and collate antibiotic use data recorded on pig farms 
  • Benchmark each farm's antibiotic use against other farms of a similar type 
  • Extend education in effective disease control strategies 
  • Reduce antibiotic use, consistent with responsible human and food-animal medicine Promote veterinary prescribing principles to strictly limit the use of antibiotics of critical importance to human health 
  • Appoint Stewardship Commissars who will continually review industry's use of antimicrobials and champion initiatives. 

2) The most recent UK-VARSS (Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveil-lance) showed sales of antibiotics licensed for both pigs and poultry were down 23 tonnes to 212 tonnes in 2015, a 10% drop. Sales of products licensed for pigs only were down 24%, a 16 tonne reduction to 50 tonnes, the biggest fall across all the sectors. 

30th

October 2017
Brussels

Brexit could create pig industry labour crisis, survey shows


The UK pig industry faces a labour crisis unless the Government takes steps to preserve access to EU workers after we leave the EU, the National Pig Association (NPA) has warned.

The NPA has today published the results of a survey of members from across the sector, which confirms that businesses are already suffering problems accessing EU labour as a result of the Brexit vote. Two-thirds of businesses employing EU labour said it had become more difficult to find EU labour since the vote, while nearly one in three have already seen workers leave.

On Friday (October 27), the association submitted its response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) call for evidence to inform the Government’s post-Brexit immigration and labour policy. The key message from the NPA was that the Government must take steps to ensure that so-called ‘low-skilled’ permanent EU workers remain accessible to the sector.

Survey results

The survey, hosted on the NPA’s website, received 138 responses from producers of all sizes and systems, pork processors and members of the allied industries. Key findings included:

  • Just over a half of respondents employed at least one non-UK worker, with 24% hiring more than a quarter of their labour from overseas.
  • Around 90% of businesses using non-UK labour employed them on a permanent basis, with 94% of non-UK workers coming from the EU.
  • 29% of businesses employing EU labour said at least one EU worker had left since the Brexit vote due to changing circumstances (eg, exchange rate and concern over immigration policy).
  • 64% of those employing EU labour said it had become harder to find EU labour since the vote. None said it had got easier.
  • Nearly half of those employing EU labour said EU workers they employed were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty over Brexit.

The survey also highlighted the industry’s fears for the future as the UK plans its departure from the EU.

  • 63% of all respondents are less confident in their ability to source enough labour to meet their requirements than before the Brexit vote, including 40% ‘much less’ so. 1.5% are more confident.
  • 46% said it would be ‘very difficult’ or ‘impossible’ to source all their labour from the UK in future. 11% said it would be ‘very easy’, while 42% said it would be ‘possible but not straightforward’.
  • 17% said their businesses would not survive without migrant labour, while 28% would have to alter how they operate.

In its submission to the MAC, the NPA said EU workers have provided a welcome solution to the historic difficulty of attracting domestic labour for the UK pig sector.

The response highlights the misleading nature of the official term ‘low-skilled’ to describe many of the EU workers employed by our pig farms, meat processors and allied businesses.

“They are anything but ‘low-skilled’. Animal husbandry clearly requires a high degree of technical skill but many roles do not require graduate level training,” said NPA chief executive Zoe Davies

“The Government has made it clear it wants to restrict permanent so-called low-skilled workers after we leave the EU. The NPA is making the argument in the strongest possible terms ‘lower skilled’ workers employed in the pig sector should be included on the ‘shortage occupation’ list and prioritised after we leave the EU.

“We are already seeing the effects of Brexit on our ability to secure EU workers and our survey highlights the scale of the crisis this sector faces if we get our immigration policy wrong. Without the workers, we simply can’t produce and process the fabulous British pork enjoyed by millions of consumers. Exporting pork production is in nobody’s interest.”

NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker said the survey highlighted the difficulties the UK pig sector currently faces in recruiting labour from the UK, with farming often not seen as a desirable career choice.

Four in very five respondents said farming was not being offered as an attractive proposition by UK educational establishments, while more than half said colleges were not providing employees with the necessary skills.

Mr Barker added: “The talent and enthusiasm is out there. It is critical that, as we leave the EU, the agricultural industry works with Government and the educational sector to champion agriculture as a great place to work and to provide the right training and skills to meet the sector’s needs.”

Notes to editors

1)      The online survey was accessed via the NPA website in late September and early October. Just over 90% of respondents were producers, with the rest from the processing and allied industries. Of all respondents, 62% employed fewer than 10 workers, while 12% employed more than 50.

2)      The survey invited comments from respondents, a selection of which can be viewed here:

 “They (EU workers) are uncertain as to whether they will be able to remain here after Brexit. All want to remain here.”

“UK labour are increasingly unwilling to work with pigs. Even on the arable side of our business future staffing is the biggest risk to our business.”

“We have always struggled to find good quality labour locally but have had no problem sourcing abroad.”

3)      The NPA carried out a survey into EU labour last year. The results can be viewed here

4)      Home Secretary Amber Rudd commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to seek views from across the UK economy to inform its post-Brexit immigration and labour policy. The NPA submitted its five-page response on October 27.  

For further information please contact:

Ed Barker, NPA senior policy adviser Mobile: 07741 263194

Email: edward.barker@npanet.org.uk

18th

May 2017
Westminster

NPA election manifesto calls for 'Fair Deal for British Pig Industry'


The National Pig Association (NPA) is using its General Election manifesto to call for a fair and balanced deal for British pig farmers from the next Government.

The association, which represents about 80% of British pig production, has identified five priority areas for the main political parties, ahead of the June 8 poll. These are:

Post-Brexit trade: Trade arrangements that recognise our world-leading standards and enable the UK pig industry to thrive in the global marketplace. We must not agree to deals that open us up to unfair competition and we must fight for equivalent standards.

Labour: A balanced immigration policy that ensures we retain access to EU labour. We need a secure workforce and staff that are welcome to live in the UK.

Support: A domestic agricultural policy that supports our high standards and helps us to invest in modern production facilities that deliver good animal health and welfare.

Regulation: A fair regulatory system that ensures our needs as a valuable sector producing an iconic, high quality product are fairly balanced alongside other interests.

Pig health and welfare: The same resource and effort must be put into keeping animal disease out as extending export markets, as ultimately the two are intrinsically linked.

When it comes to post-Brexit trade, the NPA is highlighting the importance to the pig sector of maintaining tariff free access to the Single Market but also of ensuring that, if EU tariffs are imposed, that EU imports coming the other way are subject to equivalent tariffs.

The association has also issued a warning about the potential implications for animal health and welfare of new free trade deals outside the EU. It recently published details of research it has carried out comparing animal welfare standards across key pig producing countries.

For example, while sow stalls have been outlawed in the UK since 1999 and are now partially banned across the rest of the EU, they are still legal in the US, Canada and Brazil. These three countries also have very different attitudes when it comes to antibiotic use, while the feed additive, Ractopamine, banned in the EU, is still approved in all three.

The UK is also unique among major pig producing countries, including its EU competitors, in its variety of production methods, including outdoor breeding and indoor straw-based systems.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The British pig industry has absolutely no intention of lowering our welfare standards as a result of any post-Brexit trade deals.

“Our manifesto is all about delivering a fair and balanced deal for our members and that includes ensuring British pig producers are not undercut by imports of pork from countries produced to lower welfare standards. We must insist on equivalent standards for imports and, if necessary, designate pork as a ‘sensitive product during free trade negotiations.

“We are also sending out a clear message to the next Government about the need to maintain easy access to EU labour, particularly permanent, so-called ‘un-skilled’ labour that our farms and the allied industries are so dependent on.”

Other NPA election manifesto priorities include:

  • Grant funding under a new domestic agricultural policy or tax support to help investment in modern production facilities that deliver good animal health and welfare and allow farmers to reduce antibiotic use
  • Champion the exceptional standards of Assured British pig farmers by ensuring Government departments always procure pork products to equivalent UK standards
  • Legislation and regulation must be evidence- and outcome-based
  • Better border controls and stricter penalties for those caught illegally importing meat.

The NPA’s manifesto is being sent to members for them to pass on to candidates, along with a poster that gives candidates an opportunity to show, via a ‘selfie’, their support for a ‘Fair Deal for the British Pig Industry’.

NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “We are now urging our members to help drive these messages home to prospective candidates, whether that is on the doorstep, out and about in their constituencies or via arranged meetings.

“If we all work together, we can really make a difference. We are not asking for special favours – all we want is a fair deal.”

Notes to editors

  • You can view the full NPA 2017 General Election Manifesto here and the poster for candidates here
  • You can read the article on the NPA’s Animal Welfare Matrix comparing standards across the key pig producing countries here
  • The UK pig industry is worth £1.2 billion at the farm-gate and, considering retail, foodservice and exports, over £7.5 billion in total. Our export market is worth £400 million a year
  • The NPA is the ‘voice of the British pig industry’, representing the interests of pig producers and the allied industries. Our membership covers around 80% of the UK sow herd.

More information

For more information, contact Zoe Davies

Mobile: 07814 448956 Email: 

27th

October 2017
HealthWelfare

Huge leap forward by pig industry in meeting the antibiotic challenge


The UK pig industry has made a huge leap forward in meeting the antibiotic challenge, the National Pig Association (NPA) said, following the publication of usage figures for the sector.

Targets for further reductions also announced today demonstrate the pig industry’s drive to continue the excellent progress.

Data collected by the pig industry through the eMB-Pigs database, published today, highlight the significant steps pig producers and vets have already taken in reducing and refining their antibiotic use.

It shows overall use in pigs fell by 34% between 2015 and 2016, while use of the critically important antibiotics (CIAs) dropped by a hugely impressive 73% and make up a tiny proportion of overall use.

These positive trends were echoed in another set of data published today, the Government’s Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance Report (UK-VARSS 2016). It showed overall UK livestock industry antibiotic sales data fell by 21% to 45mg/PCU in 2016, exceeding the 2018 target of 50mg/PCU.

NPA chairman Richard Lister described the targets, announced at the Responsible Use of Medicine in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance conference in London today, as ‘challenging but achievable’.

They will require the pig sector to cut antibiotic usage by 62% by 2020 to 99mg/PCU (Population Corrected Unit). The stepped targets include a 25% reduction for 2017.

Mr Lister who has, himself, made great strides in reducing antibiotic treatments on his pig farms in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, played a major role in setting the new targets as a member of RUMA’s Targets Task Force, along with Mark White, president of the Pig Veterinary Society. This followed consultation among NPA and PVS members.

Mr Lister said: “The figures published today show the really good progress made right across the industry in reducing and refining antibiotic use. We know that reductions will be challenging for individual farms when faced with specific disease issues – and antibiotics will continue to serve as an important tool to protect pig health. But, as an industry-wide target, it is achievable.

“Many producers across the industry, working with their vets and others, are already taking action and having ‘the courage to cut’. But there is more that can be done and, for those who haven’t yet risen to the challenge, advice and support is readily available. Every producer and vet has a part to play in helping achieve the 2020 target. Doing nothing is no longer an option.”

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We welcome these targets and totally accept the justification for them, as laid out in the O’Neill report.”

She praised the ‘superb efforts’ of those who were already making changes and said the association would continue to show leadership in bringing about change within the sector. 

“It is true that, historically, the pig industry has been a relatively high user. There are many reasons for that, including the specific disease challenges the UK industry faces and a long period of poor prices for pork which prevented much needed reinvestment on farms,” Dr Davies said.

“These targets might only take us until 2020, but rest assured the industry will not stop there. However, we must also continue to ensure that the health and welfare of our pigs is the priority at all times. We need to cut responsibly.”

NPA senior policy advisor Georgina Crayford, who put together the association’s widely praised Antibiotic Stewardship Programme last year, said the publication of the eMB figures is ‘really impressive’ on its own.

“Very few other countries publish national on-farm antibiotic usage for the pig sector, so this is a real step up in transparency,” she said.

Dr Crayford also highlighted the success in reducing the use of the classes of antibiotics that are most important for human medicine. “Overall, CIAs represented just 0.1% of total antibiotic use, with reductions recorded last year across all classes. Colistin is now barely used at all in UK pigs.”

She stressed that, while producers are up for the challenge, a partnership approach would be required. “If we are going to meet these targets, support will be needed from Government for investment in infrastructure and pig health improvement programmes and we will also need a proportionate and responsible approach from the supply chain.”

29th

March 2017
Brussels

NPA vows to fight to protect post-Brexit UK welfare standards


The National Pig Association (NPA) has insisted the UK’s high animal welfare standards must not be lowered in pursuit of new trade deals and a post-Brexit cheap food agenda. 

As Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50, the NPA is calling for steps to protect pig producers and consumers, including equivalent standards for meat imports and, if necessary, tariffs and quotas where standards fall short. 

The association also wants to see strict labelling laws put in place to provide clarity for consumers over differences in production standards. 

The NPA’s top three Brexit priorities for the pig sector are: 

  • Retaining free access to the Single Market 
  • Ensuring the UK pig industry is not undermined by lower standard imports 
  • Retaining access to permanent EU labour – skilled and ‘unskilled’. 

The UK pig industry exported more than 206,000 tonnes of pigmeat, worth £252 mil-lion, in 2017, nearly 60% of which went to or via the EU. 

NPA chairman Richard Lister said: “A free trade deal with the EU is absolutely vital for the pig sector. Tariffs on pork exports, for example, of 45p/kg on carcases or 131p/kg for processed hams, would cripple our export trade, slash profitability and export production overseas, particularly if equivalent tariffs were not levied on im-ports into the UK. 

“If we leave without a trade deal, sensible transitional arrangements must be put in place.” 

An even greater concern for the NPA is the prospect of new trade deals that would expose UK consumers and producers to cheaper pork imports from the likes of the US, Canada and Brazil, where health and welfare standards are often considerably lower than ours. 

Mr Lister added: “The recent Brazilian meat scandal has highlighted the inherent dangers in any potential new trade deals. 

“We don’t want imported meat produced to lower hygiene, welfare and traceability standards posing a threat to consumers and undercutting UK producers. We don’t want pork from the US, for example, from pigs reared using the growth promoter rac-topamine or from sows reared in stall systems outlawed in the UK since the late-1990s.” 

The NPA has welcomed comments by the Prime Minister and Defra Ministers con-firming they have no intention of allowing UK standards to be compromised in future trade deals. However, Farming Minister George Eustice has acknowledged that WTO rules, as they stand, make it difficult to include welfare standards as a condi-tion of trade. 

Mr Lister, who farms in Yorkshire, said: “We are proud of our high animal welfare standards in the UK. We want future trade deals to specify equivalent standards when it comes to meat imports. If that is not possible, pork must be granted protect-ed status, with tariffs and quotas imposed on lower standard imports. 

“We will also insist on an extension of country of origin labelling laws to clearly speci-fy when meat has been produced to lower standards.” 

The NPA’s other major concern is the availability of EU labour after we leave the EU. 

Mr Lister said: “Any talk of trade deals will be rendered almost irrelevant if we lose access to the EU labour force. There would simply not be a British pig industry as we know it today. 

“A survey of our members has highlighted the extent to which we rely on permanent, skilled and unskilled EU labour (by ‘unskilled’ we mean not educated to degree lev-el), rather than short-term seasonal workers.” 

Mr Lister concluded: “Brexit will provide opportunities and threats in equal measures and we will continue to bang the drum for the best possible deal for the pig sector.” 

Notes to editors 

1) The EU has imposed a partial ban on products from the 21 processing plants under investigation in Brazil, following a scandal over meat hygiene stand-ards. Click here to read more 

2) An NPA survey on the pig industry’s reliance on EU labour showed: 

  • 58% of businesses across the supply chain employed at least one migrant worker 
  • Nearly 20% employed between 11 and 50 
  • More than 90% of migrant workers were employed on a full-time basis 
  • 20% said their businesses would not survive without migrant labour. 

3) Other NPA Brexit priorities include: 

  • Ensuring protection from exotic disease is maintained 
  • Grants for building and infrastructure improvements that promote animal health and welfare standards under a new domestic agricultural policy 
  • Ensuring the pig sector is fully involved in any moves to drive up health and welfare standards under a new farm policy. 

More information 

For more information, contact Zoe Davies 

Mobile: 07814 448956 Email: zoe.davies@npanet.org.uk 

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