March 2016: It’s time to air some dirty laundry

I have to say that the past few weeks have been fantastic in terms of the media coverage that we’ve been able to attract, especially from the BBC, in order to raise awareness of the current pig industry situation to the public.

It’s been completely manic, so we’re really hoping all the effort pays off. In addition to all the reporters we’ve spoken to who’ve subsequently covered the story in the press, we’ve collectively completed more than 20 interviews on the radio and TV for national and regional news in just a couple of weeks.

Of course it’s not just about rocking up and waxing lyrical; in order for the story to ever run in the first place, media interest has to be tweaked, which it was by Digby’s very clever press releases. Then, when they ring to enquire, you’ve got to hook them in and convince them that the story is worth running. After that we have to find them willing and available producers, suitable locations and co-ordinate staff effort, by which time you realise just how much resource the whole thing involves.

I’m really lucky, however, in that I have fantastically professional staff and some excellent producers who really understand the importance of being available for the media and who’re able to consistently deliver the messages that we need.

Not always possible, however, when the reporter insists that they go in with the pigs and they’re trying to eat you both alive during the interview! I’ve had all manner of people mention to me that they’ve heard about the pig story through one route or another so I reckon we had a good impact overall.

It is also good to see that we have almost reached the turning point for the pig price and hope to see a speedy recovery before too many suffer for too long.

Let’s just hope all the Brexit discussions keep helping to push the euro in the right direction for us. There are plenty of discussions at an EU level going on about market intervention options for both pig meat and dairy and we have been working with the Brussels office on a joint response from the UK farming unions. We were most disappointed to hear that Defra supported the closing of the recent private storage scheme, especially since it was open for a mere 21 days.

The fact that it filled up so quickly was clearly an indicator of need, just a shame that only a small budget was allocated to it. We’ve asked for it to be re-opened for lower value fat and offal products, which could help the market but not make such an impact when re-released.

Our next lobbying effort with MPs, which we’ll need your help with, is aimed at prompting them to ask Defra how it’s acceptable for it to place stricter welfare legislation on British pig farmers and make grand public statements about supporting British farmers, but to allow Government departments, prisons, hospitals and schools to buy cheaper Euro-pork produced to lower welfare standards? We’ve been asking them directly for too long and not received a sensible answer, so we’re taking this bit of dirty washing outside and we need you to help us wash it!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: www.npa-uk.org.uk