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Gove roundtable - NPA sets out vision for pig sector in 2030

7th Jul 2017 / By Alistair Driver

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies set out the association’s vision for a ‘world class’ pig industry of the future during a roundtable event hosted by Michael Gove.

Gove1Zoe highlighted, in particular, the need for investment in the industry in order to help it meet the challenges ahead, both in the marketplace and in maintaining and enhancing the UK’s high health and welfare standards.

This was a common theme as the new Defra Secretary invited industry leaders to Defra’s Nobel House headquarters to discuss what sort of policies they need to see in place to achieve their ambitions for their sector.

Mr Gove began by making it clear how he was struck by the UK livestock sector’s reputation for high welfare standards and said he wanted to see this enhanced, believing we can compete in the global market on the grounds of quality. He also sought provide assurance to all that the UK Government is not going to compromise welfare or environmental standards in new post-Brexit arrangements.

A number of industry stakeholders highlighted the problems a lack of confidence and a lack of investment had created for agriculture over the years. The need for frictionless trade with the EU and for a proper transitional period if this is not in place when we leave the EU, alongside continued access to EU labour, seasonal and permanent, were also highlighted as priorities.

There were also calls for a post-Brexit domestic agricultural policy to support farmers in the face of volatility and to improve productivity, as well as providing rewards for the provision of public goods.  

Mr Gove was also urged to ensure the Government refrained from damaging legislation that would hamper growth, for example, the unilateral sow stall ban, which has such a damaging impact on sow numbers from the late-1990s.

Above all, there was a desire for an agricultural policy that championed domestic production and contributed to the UK’s food security.

Zoe’s vision for the pig sector in 2030

Asked to set out a vision for what a world class pig industry would look like on 2030, Zoe summed it up as a ‘profitable and efficient pig industry run by confident and proud producers’.

Key aspirations include:

  • UK Pigs are being produced in a whole range of system types using latest technology and innovation in efficient and modern housing.
  • Pigs are healthy, with minimal veterinary medicine use and are looked after by highly skilled staff, increasingly from the UK but also from abroad.
  • Due to Government support, agriculture and food production is now a career of choice, known for good pay, career progression, skills development and use of technology that young people want to be a part of.
  • Producers have the confidence to invest because they are part of long term transparent and functioning supply chain contracts with processors, retailers and the service industry.
  • They are also supported by evidence based legislation that helps industry to progress whilst paying due regard to pig health and welfare and the environment.
  • Producers are able to invest, not only because they are profitable, but also because they are supported and actively encouraged to do so. The Treasury, Defra and industry have worked closely together to establish mechanisms to invest in core infrastructure such as buildings, resource efficiency and waste management. We have a planning process that supports ag businesses that want to grow within defined set standards
  • Government assists producers with tools to overcome market volatility, allowing the sector to improve pig health whilst reducing emissions, water and energy use.

The national herd is healthy and protected by:

  • Establishing a satellite mapping and registration system to monitor all pigs, including feral ones.
  • Effectively controlling population of feral pigs to sensible level and constrained movement.
  • Maintaining knowledge transfer and data sharing with other EU agencies – world class surveillance system tracking new and endemic disease
  • Strengthening border controls – visitors to the UK are well aware of penalties for bringing in contraband.

Our place in the the global market:

  • Defra, DIT, AHDB and the industry have worked collaboratively to open up new export markets for pig products in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for offal products, fresh pork products and cull sows.
  • We have a fully functioning trade deal with the EU that allows free movement of goods. Wider trade deals with other countries are also in place that respect differences in standards and don’t disadvantage UK production, especially where higher standards have been set by the UK Government.
  • UK pigmeat is upheld as high quality, high welfare and fully traceable – and is sought after on world markets commanding a healthy premium.
  • Consumers understand where their food comes from and how it is produced. Farmers are proud of how they rear their pigs and increasingly open their doors to the public. Consumption of UK reared pork is increasing.
  • As a result, the UK’s self-sufficiency for pork has increased back to pre-nineties levels of 75%.