South West autumn regional summary - key messages on tail biting and ASF
16th Oct 2018 / By Andrew Freemantle
South West NPA chairman Andrew Freemantle gives his take on the recent autumn regional meeting.
The South West event, which took place at Exeter racecourse on the evening of the first day of the George Vet Group Pig Fair, kicked off this year’s autumn regional meetings.
I chaired the meeting, which was attended by around 20 people and the mood, understandably given everything that is going on, was cautious.
The NPA team began with an update on the topical issues affecting the pig sector, including Brexit and African swine fever. If there was one outstanding ‘take home message’ from the night, it was that the entire pig sector needs to be extremely careful and up its game with regards to biosecurity now that ASF is so near.
The big presentation of the evening was on tail docking. Georgina explained how there is now increased enforcement of legislation relating to tail docking and some producers are already being penalised for routine docking. There was advice on how best to ensure you are compliant and what evidence producers should be gathering to demonstrate compliance.
The big message was that no tail biting would be acceptable, which is not the attitude on the continent. From the discussion, it was clear that we all have suffered from some degree of tail biting. It is obviously an issue that will need to be addressed right across the industry – but it must be handled sensibly.
We had a useful update on the market by Bethan Wilkins from AHDB’s Market Intelligence and then Charles Smith, chief executive of The Farming Community Network talked about the great work of the FCN in supporting farmers and their families through difficult times.
As ever, it was a very valuable and thought-provoking meeting.