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A memorable and informative two days with Young NPA in Suffolk

27th Jun 2023 / By Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson, vice-chair of Young NPA, summarises the highlights of the group's two-day visit to Suffolk last week.

On June 20, a group of YNPA members headed to Suffolk for two days of interesting and informative visits.

The trip started with a visit to Dingley Dell Pork and we were greeted by Mark Hayward with a charcuterie board of Dingley Dell products, which tasted delicious! Mark then explained how he and his brother developed the business following the challenges the sector faced in the late-90s, and how the business has diversified and built over the years.

YNPA Suffolk Dingley Dell 2He has worked closely with a meat business and a meat scientist to develop the taste of their pork whilst keeping their production commercial and continually looking at ways to get more from a pig. This has been expanded more recently with the addition of their charcuterie business, as well as now producing a collection from the Dingley Dell Red, their own breed of pig.

Mark is a man who is as passionate about pigs and how pork should be eaten and cooked as I’ve ever met!

Next we travelled to Quality Equipment, where the group were hosted by Jamie Baker and myself. It was an opportunity for us to show to people within the pig industry what we do at Quality Equipment and explain how we work with our customers to produce the product they require.

YNPA Suffolk QEIt was also an opportunity for us to show our facilities here and explain how we do what we do from fabricating products to the production of Paneltim and finishing with Transition Feeders. 

Day two began with a visit to EJ Barker and Sons farm, AHDB Strategic Farm, which was a mind-blowing visit, we saw how working with the environment whilst running a successful arable enterprise can be done hand-in-hand.

YNPA Suffolk Barkers

They have created a green area that runs on non-productive arable land through the middle of the farm, which creates an environment for hundreds of species of wildlife to grow and prosper.

The farm has increased it’s amount of turtledove pairs and grey partridge pairs in the last year, as well as having an increased number of barn owls, kites, kestrels and other birds. Bees are also a fascinating creature at the Barker’s farm - as I found out, not all bees produce honey and they’ve also managed to find varieties of bees that haven’t been seen for years in Suffolk.

I could write a lot about this visit as it was incredible – if anyone gets the chance to visit this farm please do jump at it with both hands and take extra hayfever meds if you suffer!

The trip finished with a tour of Claas, where we were shown all the facilities of the Manns and Claas UK operations. The family-owned business was founded in 1913 but it was in 1921, following the patent for a knotter that August Claas filed, that the company became financially secure.

YNPA Suffolk ClaasAhead of and during the second world war Claas focussed on the combine harvester, which today they continue to lead the European market in.

Touring the site, we saw the facilities for their apprentices, warehousing and training, they even have an impressive green screen room which allows them to train their team far and wide. It was a brilliant end to two days with YNPA.

We had fabulous hospitality from all our hosts, which we are very thankful for, and those that were able to join us on the trip have shared how insightful it was, how great it was to see the wider agricultural world, but also how much they took from meeting up with other passionate people from our sector.

We’ve got other plans in progress for later this year, including the National, we’ll be in touch nearer the time with all the details but for now pop 28 November in your diary!

Are you a YNPA member?

Young NPA brings together young people (up to age 40) from across the pig industry to socialise, network, travel and extend their knowledge of the industry.

If you’d like to join YNPA then download and fill in the form on the ‘How to Join’ page of the NPA website and send to .