I can’t believe how fast time is marching on – hopefully you have all managed to dodge the rain and finished harvest without encountering mycotoxin issues!
August is typically the month when many officials are on leave, so it’s when I have my member meetings. This is one of the best times of my year, because it means that I get to spend time with my favourite people – yes, that’s you lot!
Aside from the fact it is good to share what is going on in the crazy world of politics, it’s also important to make sure that the National Pig Association is actually delivering what its members expect. Business is good, too, and it’s great to see how much investment, innovation and positive planning is going on out there. It has made me feel quite refreshed.
It is, however, sad to see the division between indoor and outdoor producers is growing again. You never hear a peep when everyone is losing money and desperately clinging together for survival, but the minute the coffers fill up, the knives come out!
The NPA has been accused, from both sides, of favouring one system over the other, which – although one sage producer remarked meant that we must be doing a good job then – does rather highlight the position that we are in. We will be having a debate about how we handle the great indoor/outdoor divide at the next producer group meeting, but just in case anyone out there is wondering, we fight for you all – regardless of system.
Brexit discussions are carrying on apace too – with everything from deciding what will happen to goods already on the market at the point we leave, to what will happen at the Irish border, and whether Liam ‘Free Trade’ Fox will win over Michael ‘Welfare Standards’ Gove.
Hard Brexit talk has been replaced by a conciliatory tone and the need for transitional agreements. Needless to say, we are feeding in at all levels to ensure the pig sector is properly represented and those who need to know are aware of our concerns and the opportunities as we see them.
There is still far too much negativity being spread by the vegan lobby, too. Vigils are starting to crop up on farms after one particularly nasty group targeted one Warwickshire farm in June and continues to try their best to ruin his business, nearly three months later.
Despite the farm being cleared by all the agencies and the retailer he supplies, the farmer has had to endure vigils every two weeks since June – with a rowdy mob hanging about outside his house, swearing, pushing boundaries and generally trying their very best to provoke a reaction.
His experience is a million miles away from the fluffy animal loving persona they try and display to the unsuspecting public – although shoppers in Tesco stores did get a bit of a flavour when the ‘meat is murder’ lobby rocked up a few weeks ago. I’m not sure all of the shoppers appreciated the message, mind you.