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His head was spinning - so much to discuss as we invited Defra official to pig farm

7th Jun 2019 / By Zoe Davies

I took the new Director for Exotic Disease policy for Defra, Peter Jinks, out on Tom Bugg’s outdoor pig unit in Berkshire yesterday.  

Defra Bugg visit

Tom, pictured left, kindly hosted us and explained to Peter, right, how his outdoor system worked and we discussed the challenges associated with any disease outbreak on an outdoor unit specifically. I gave Peter an overview of the pig industry in general and all exotic disease related issues and impact that an outbreak like ASF would have on the industry.

Aside from the obvious trade issues, I also asked him to think about the mental health issues that always accompany such an awful event. Aside from the disease issues, we talked about Brexit impacts, pig welfare pressures versus reality, method of production labelling, feral pig control and a whole host of other issues from staff retention and training to environmental impact mitigation by the pig industry and problems with planning. 

I’m sure his head was spinning when he eventually left but hopefully he found it useful as we did!   

Having a degree in maths and spending 14 years in the Cabinet Office in various roles including HR and pay, it was clear that Peter is a clever cookie and certainly well placed to managed the convoluted area of disease risk management and identify from the whole host of competing issues which will be most important to focus on.  

Despite not knowing anything about the pig sector he was certainly keen to learn and quick to pick things up.

I challenged him again on lack of action by UK Border Force and he is very clear that they will be doing something and soon – even if it starts as a trial just to get things moving. He was also very interested in the #Muckfreetruck campaign and has certainly recognised the importance of transport in disease spread.

I look forward to more engagement and plan to take him to an indoor unit next to understand the other half of the pig sector.