YNPA National - bringing together the best and brightest to discuss the future
27th Dec 2021 / By Jon McKechnie
Jonathan McKechnie, Young NPA vice chair, who recently joined HIPRA as a species technician, provides a round-up of the YNPA National event, which took place in London in December
The Young NPA (YNPA) National was held in London in December. With the current challenges facing the industry, the event was sure to see some interesting discussion and innovative thinking from the young minds that will shape the future of the sector.
It has been a year like no other for the pig sector as a combination of Covid-19, Brexit, Labour shortages and poor prices came together to create one of the worse crises our industry has faced in recent times.
As a result of this and the NPA’s scheduled policy change in 2023, it was decided to shake up the format of the YNPA National and bring together the best and brightest of our industry’s future.
In previous years, the YNPA National has been used as a tool to bring together thought leaders, innovators and buyers together to share their latest insights on our sector. Speakers have ranged from journalists and supermarkets to successful farmers from other industry sectors. But this year we decided it was vital to bring together the young people within the sector and give them a platform from which they could help to shape NPA policy moving forward.
The day kicked off with Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, outlining the ways that he is currently lobbying government to support our industry. The aim was to ignite thought about how the NPA can help to keep up pressure on the government and ensure our sector doesn’t slip down the agenda.
We are very grateful that Neil could join us, and he did a fantastic job fielding questions from a passionate group that had been facing unprecedented challenges in recent times.
Next it was time to break out into groups, with each one discussing a key policy area for the NPA and coming up with suggestions on what the NPA can do moving forwards. Topic discussed included: membership, planning for the future, political influence, increasing demand for British pork and bridging the knowledge gap between producers and consumers.
With every group combining a mix of both producer and allied industry, there was a brilliant level of discussion and, quite surprisingly, a lot of agreement. Common themes cropped up from around the room, with each group feeling the need to improve communication, both within the pig industry and the general public, to help strengthen our position as a vital stakeholder in the future of UK food security.
Engaging with people from a much younger age through university collaborations, education programmes and various media outlets, alongside offering student memberships to improve the reach of industry information, was suggested by almost every group.
An earlier interaction with younger people, and allowing them a better understanding of what the UK pig industry offers the world, can only make it become a brighter place.
What was quite obvious throughout the event was that the future of the industry is filled with passionate and hard-working individuals all pulling toward a common goal, with ideas covering cross-sector collaboration, succession planning at every level, an improved YNPA member offering, more work and interaction with young farmers clubs, and doing more with the allied and producer members within the organisation.
Following this the group came together to create a video for the #BiteintoBritish social media campaign. If you search for the hashtag on social media, you’ll be able to find it and any shares would be greatly appreciated.
Better yet, create your own video to raise awareness of the current crisis facing our industry and celebrate the outstanding produce coming from British farms.
The excellent attendance on the day meant that the wealth of experience being brought to the table was possibly the best yet. From producers and allied industry, through to the range of systems and business models, the breadth of the sector was well reflected, and, it was clear that everyone wanted to improve everything from the bottom up.
Without the past work done by those in the industry, the UK pig sector wouldn’t be fit to serve the younger members within it today - it was clear to see that in that room and in everyone’s words on the day.
I am truly grateful for everyone that sponsored the event and everyone who attended. Thank you.