Charlie Allen wins David Black Award

Oxfordshire farmer and founder member of Thames Valley Cambac (TVC) Charlie Allen has won the prestigious David Black Award.

Mr Allen, a member of the NPA producer group, received his award today at an industry breakfast at the House of Lords, attended by politicians, members of the House of Lords and industry leaders. It was presented by Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the EFRA Select Committee.

Mr Allen said: “I’ve been in the industry all my life, growing up looking after pigs and I’ve been at it ever since. I’m just a simple pig farmer, it’s as simple as that, so to receive the award was a surprise and I never thought for a minute I would get it.”

He started farming in 1971 with his father, uncle, brother and cousin, with responsibility for 300 sows and has never looked back. Today, the business has more than 5,000 sows at units in Oxfordshire and Dorset which Charlie still runs with his brother but now also his son and two nephews.

He was a founder member of the producer group and is chairman of TVC, which has grown to be the largest pig marketing operation in the UK.

Mr Allen used used the platform to send out a warning about how measures must be taken to ensure Brexit does not result in the UK being exposed to lower standard pork imports and that access to EU labour is retained post-Brexit.

Sow stall ban

“The industry has totally changed,” he added. “The biggest change was brought about by the sow stall ban where we lost virtually half of our industry. We need to make sure we don’t lose the other half as we go through Brexit and look to open new markets.

“While the industry is becoming more specialised we should ensure we put ourselves in the strongest position possible to compete in the global market. Going forwards, the important point is that whatever we do, we need to do it well.”

“We’re a large family business. My father and uncle started off with 250 acres and today we farm in the region of 7,000 acres. The business has been successful over the years, through hard work and a bit of luck. The key to that success is, however, teamwork and the strength of our team here has stood us in good stead over the years.

“Generally we’ve always been very proactive farmers, working with processors, understanding customers and supplying what they want. I’ve always realised you can’t stand still though. We’ve upgraded buildings and utilised the latest technology to ensure we’re in a position where we’re operating as up to date as we can be. There have also been tremendous advances in pig genetics and pig health.”

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About The Author

Editor of Pig World and contributor to LBM’s other farming publications. Also National Pig Association webmaster. Formerly political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years. Enjoy a bit of media punditry. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm. Work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Under-9 football coach and big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.