August 2016: Comic irony on Brexit results day

We’re certainly in turbulent times with a lot of change; by the time you read this, we’ll have moved from football and tennis to the Olympics. Fingers crossed this and the weather encourage pork sales.

There was some measure of comic irony on Brexit results day when we received the good news that the EUPig project, which creates a knowledge exchange network for pig research, had been accepted for EU funding. Charlotte Evans has done a fantastic job in bringing the consortium together to submit the bid, and she estimates the partner organisations have coverage of more than 90% of the EU pig herd.

For us, this is an opportunity to access the latest European research, not only is it cost effective, because the EU is paying, but also more timely. We hope contracts will be signed by the autumn, so we should start to see the benefits by next year.

It was encouraging to see 50 producers and allied industry at the Focus Farm launch. David, Len and Helen Goodier hosted a really positive day, speaking openly about what was, and wasn’t, working on their unit.

I’m sure everyone took something away from the experience. We know that sometimes it’s the small things that can make a big difference, so Len was justifiably proud of his bigger door to speed up pig flow. For those not fortunate enough to be there, he’d simply made the opening wider!

How often do we fit a standard door without considering the pigs, or the length of time taken to move them through it? In this case, the time and frustration saving doesn’t warrant further analysis. Clearly a “no brainer”.
As I write, Dominic Charman and Sue Rabbich are at the Focus Farm starting some trials to take ideas discussed by the group forward. Watch out for reports as we start to get results, and it’s not too late to get involved – the next meeting is on October 17.

Some of you may wonder how we decide what we do, what areas of work we focus on, and what work we decide to fund. There are various mechanisms, one of which is our technical subgroup that acts in an advisory capacity to our main board.

The subgroup is chaired by Howard Revell, and includes representatives from NPA, PVS, board members, regional forums, our building suppliers’ forum and allied industries. A broad mix I know, but we cover a very broad spectrum of activity.

At the most recent meeting, we appraised the work we’re currently doing and considered the value it’s offering the industry. We agreed what we should be focusing on and also reviewed project proposals to help us decide which to fund.

This is always a big one because it involves bids for cash, and we agreed to take some projects forward, others sadly not. We currently have some good projects in the pipeline (literally) to deliver what will hopefully offer real life-changing potential.

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About The Author

Nigel Penlington joined AHDB Pigs in 2004 and is now the organisation’s head of research and development and knowledge exchange.