February 2014 – Planning starts now for Producer Group elections

The NPA team has been discussing succession for some time now, of both the association’s chairman and its Producer Group members.

Elections aren’t until February 2015, but we need to start planning the process now as hustings will take place at the autumn regional meetings. You know how time flies. Autumn will be upon us before we know it!

Producer Group is our industry’s policy-making powerhouse. If producers’ views are to prevail, a strong, elected Producer Group is absolutely pivotal. This places considerable demands and responsibilities on those who are elected, however. They must be willing to listen to members and convey their views. They must also be willing to agree difficult and sometimes controversial decisions, but above all they must be prepared to represent the industry, often on provocative issues such as welfare and medicines.

Even if you’re a strong supporter of the NPA, this is a diverse, and in some ways polarised, industry, so it’s more than likely that you may have some reservations about some of the NPA’s actions. That’s fine. So please take a minute now to think about this important opportunity to influence the industry and to make a difference. Think of it as a way of putting something back for the good of the sector as a whole.

The outbreak of PEDv in the United States continues to spread unabated with the number of weekly cases reaching a new high at the end of 2013. As I write, a total of 1,800 submissions have been diagnosed as positive and the number of affected states currently stands at 20. We’re receiving reports of units unable to wean any pigs for six weeks, and this is now starting to significantly affect national herd performance. Veterinary professionals have still been unable to identify all the ways the disease is transmitted.

This, combined with the new outbreak of ASF in the Ukraine and the discovery of Aujesky’s antibodies in wild boar in Germany, is cause for serious concern. As an industry we must try to ensure these diseases aren’t given an easy ride into Britain. And in any event, we must be as prepared as possible. Accordingly, NPA, BPEX and the Pig Veterinary Society will be requesting a meeting with Government to discuss our concerns and agree a plan of action.

And so to a subject that’s never far away these days – the future of the DAPP. Our concern is that if one large processor pulls out of reporting into the DAPP, others will follow. One could envisage it becoming impossible for BPEX to produce the weekly DAPP figure. We suspect that is what some processors would like, especially at a time when the difference between Continental and British prices is so marked.

Well, you can rest assured that NPA will not allow this to happen. Producer Group has committed to working with BPEX to ensure that DAPP continues, whether in the existing form or via a new source where seller data is collected rather than buyer data.

It’s a fundamental rule of economics that markets operate most efficiently and competitively when buyers and sellers have access to good quality price information. And in any case, BPEX is legally required to collect and provide weekly pricing information for the European Commission.

Looking at all the issues NPA is tackling at present, it seems to me that my next Pig World column could be commenting on a completely different landscape, positive or negative.

Either way, we’ll be here banging heads together as and when needed!

> The NPA’s regions manager Lizzie Press is standing in as general manager during Zoë Davies’ maternity leave

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