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Let's hope 2024 is the year the pig industry's confidence returns - NPA chair

1st Jan 2024 / By Rob Mutimer

As the industry showed tentative signs of recovery in 2023, 2024 could be the year the confidence returns to the British pig sector, according to NPA chairman Rob Mutimer.

Rob Mutimer 6Rob, a Norfolk outdoor producer, said: “This year has felt rather like the hangover from the two previous years of carnage. 

“We are at least seeing positive margins which is a blessing but confidence among the majority of producers is still very low with many having to restructure their business and plug financial holes from the previous years.

“Thankfully, the herd numbers are starting to stabilise, and confidence will, hopefully, start to improve throughout 2024.”

He urged members to renew subscriptions, stressing that the association relied on them to function.

“Lizzie and the team have done an excellent job modifying their work practices to reduce running costs over the past three years – however, as costs have gone up for almost everything and the number of members has decreased due to the perfect storm that hit the industry, we have reluctantly had to increase the subscriptions,” he said.

NPA elections

Nominations for the NPA Pig Industry Group elections close on January 8, with voting commencing later in January. Rob said the elections provided an ‘excellent opportunity’ to become part of the group which advises the association on policy going forward for the next three-year term. 

“It really is not an onerous job with two face-to-face meetings and two virtual meetings a year.  We just want your opinions on a vast range of subjects and knowledge of the part of the industry you represent,” he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the current PIG group for all their help and input over the past three years.

“We are losing some very experienced and long-standing members this time. Hugh Crabtree, Sam Godfrey, Howard Revell, and Sally Stockings; your contribution over many years of voluntary service has been very commendable and you will be sorely missed by the whole team at NPA.   

“This will however provide an opportunity for others to have their say. We are not looking for people to simply rubber stamp what they hear, but to challenge any policies they do not agree with, as PIG works best when members challenge what they don’t like, and healthy debate thrashes out the best policy.”

Busy year

He thanked Lizzie and her slimmed down team for their hard work during a very busy year. “We have welcomed Katie Jarvis who has replaced Rebecca Veale on health and welfare policy. Katie has previously worked for NFU, and I am sure will be an excellent addition to the team," he said.

“A lot of what has concerned the team this year has been around the supply chain review. We are seeing progress on this, and I am hopeful this will continue in early 2024. This is the critical time where we make sure Defra get the balance correct, which will create confidence for producers but not overly burden the supply chain making trade overly difficult. 

“We all want workable contracts, and the balance of the review will be essential to its success.

“Hopefully you see the value the NPA brings to the industry through the hard work of our small, dedicated team.

“With a staff of four I really feel Lizzie and the team punch well above their weight. We are very lucky to have them and their vast knowledge and connections in all parts of the pig sector and beyond.”

Highly valued

Hugh Crabtree dec 21In his New Year message to allied industry members, NPA vice-chair Hugh Crabtree, who will step down from PIG after more than 40 years of involvement with pig industry trade associations, also highlighted the benefits of sitting on the PIG, as the nomination deadline looms.

“The Pig Industry Group – to which allied members are elected – is being slimmed down,” he said.

“The 2024 elections will provide four seats for allied members on the PIG. It is widely acknowledged within the NPA that the PIG has worked really well and that the contribution made by allied members is highly valued. We are absolutely at the heart of policy making.”

He also urged NPA members to renew their subscriptions. “Our pig trade association depends entirely on membership subscriptions from producer and allied industry members to continue its vital work in the sector,” he said.

“A strong representative body is very important and our association is unique in British agriculture in representing the industry interests of the whole pork supply chain. The cost of membership represents excellent value when compared to other marketing items and we know very well that the NPA team works tirelessly for the sector.”