Ironically, I heard that we received the go-ahead for our EU Pig innovation Group (EU PiG) the day after Britain voted to leave the EU. Talk about timing!
My email to the group read something like: “Despite the political situation we find ourselves in this morning, we have been successful with €2m worth of funding, if everybody would still like to work with us?” Thank goodness they are all good-humoured!
This project was started because of duplication of effort in the EU.
Apparently, the first couple of meetings involved conversations that sounded something like this:
“So, I hear you have been developing a Salmonella monitoring scheme?”
“Yes, we’ve spent the last three years trying to implement something which hasn’t really been working very well.”
“Oh really? You should have asked us, plus another six organisations who have tried this over the last five years with a similar outcome.”
I might be exaggerating, but you get the idea. We’re a small industry and can’t afford to keep repeating projects and wasting money. So, after a few weeks of re-writing proposals and convincing our project manager of the importance of retaining our German and Hungarian partners, we officially began on November 1.
“We are a small industry and we can’t afford to keep repeating projects and wasting money”
In a nutshell, EU PiG is a four-year, €2m project looking at key issues under the broad headings of health management, precision production, animal welfare and meat quality. The project aims to connect producers with the latest science, husbandry techniques and technologies from fellow producers, academics and advisors through thematic and regional groups. It’s funded by the European Commission’s research and development programme, Horizon 2020.
The consortium consists of 19 organisations from 13 member states and is led by AHDB. Together, the consortium accounted for 92 per cent of the EU’s pig meat production and 89 per cent of the EU’s pig herd, based on 2014 figures.
Going forward, the consortium will ask producers to agree topics they would like investigated within the four themes.
Innovative best practice, combined with scientific knowledge, will be identified and shared, in addition to practical guidance.
The part of the project that I’m really looking forward to involves regional groups identifying innovative producers, who will then be introduced to each other to take part in virtual tours and mini competitions. I am hoping many of the English producers will put themselves forward for this. I know there are loads of interesting things going on.
EU PiG is very much a knowledge exchange network that is now up and running for the industry to use. Look out for the website and knowledge basecamp from February 2017, and technical reports and outputs from next spring. In the meantime, I might be in contact to make sure you are getting as much value as possible out of the funding.