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Happy New Year... and hold onto your hats!

1st Jan 2018 / By Zoe Davies

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies delves back into the past to explain why the NPA will continue to fight for producers in 2018.

ZDHappy New Year to one and all!

2017 was clearly a good year for many and as I’ve said before, hopefully people will have been busily shoring themselves up for leaner times ahead, reinvesting in the business and ensuring that you are ready to meet whatever 2018 chucks at you.

Whilst I may be accused of being a little premature, 2019 will be the NPA’s 20th anniversary, so I’ve been looking back over the past to remind myself of what happened to lead us to where we are now. Digby, who we still haven’t quite let go of yet (sorry Ann!), has done an amazing job documenting the events that led up to the formation of NPA (see here) and it really makes my heart swell to see, not only what those who are still here had to endure back then just to survive, but also how the industry has picked itself up off the floor, dusted itself off and emerged far stronger than it ever was.  

Many would have thrown the towel in years before, but no, you guys dug your heels in and fought hard for what you believed was rightly yours. My blood still boils when I read about what the retailers did in the 90s after the stall ban was introduced and I am even more incensed that Government still happily imports pork derived from systems that they made illegal here. I am however very proud to be a part of this industry, even if during the really hard years I was working on a farm in happy oblivion (although just about to experience my own personal nightmare in the form of CSF!).

Thanks to the efforts of a few stalwarts, the pig industry is still well regarded by many within the halls of Government and seen as a progressive ‘can do’ sector that is light years ahead of many.  We were also seen as worthy adversaries by many retailers too – although happy to report that these days our relationship is far more productive, if still a little frustrating at times.   

It really does help me to understand however, when I look at all the legislative challenges, declining pork consumption and increasingly volatile prices that you have had to weather since, why many of you are still in business. I know many good producers who have given up pigs and although difficult at the time, realised it was the right thing to do, but there are still many left to take the industry forward and help the next generation to embrace the changes that will be needed. 

If it hadn’t been for all the negotiation and relationship building in the dark old days, we certainly wouldn’t have half the influence that we do now and we are working hard to build on that, especially as we move into the transition phase of Brexit.  

Aside from that little divergence, signs are that pork production is up around the globe so 2018 is going to be more challenging than this year. That said however I am optimistic for the year ahead as I know we have the most resilient, progressive and determined producers out there.  Rest assured too that we will be doing our damnedest here at NPA to protect you from all the other things that threaten you, much of which I hope you never even get to hear about!

Hold onto your hats chaps – 2018 is going to be one hell of a ride…