A key advisor to Michael Gove has promised to raise the pig industry’s concerns over public procurement with the Defra Secretary, following a visit to NPA chairman Richard Lister’s farm.
Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton and Mr Gove’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) spent much of Saturday morning at Mr Lister’s farm near Thirsk, in North Yorkshire, discussing the issues concerning the sector, particularly the implications of Brexit.
Much of the focus was on public procurement. Mr Lister told his MP the pig industry had always felt let down by the Public Procurement Regulation (PPR) in the way it was written to enable Departments to buy on cost rather than to British standards. “That needs to change if the Government is realistic about using Brexit to highlight and build on our high production standards,” Mr Lister said.
Writing on his website, Mr Hollinrake said he had spent a ‘very interesting morning’ at Mr Lister’s farm, near Thirsk.
He wrote: “One of the issues of concern is Public Procurement Regulation (PPR) where the emphasis has been on cost rather than high British Standards and I promised to raise this with the Secretary of State, Michael Gove.
“Whilst Mr Lister was optimistic about the potential new export market and new streams of domestic support for the agricultural industry post Brexit, I took on board the priority farmers place on continued tariff free access to the EU and the threat posed by cheap, lower standard imports, the importance of improving border biosecurity and concerns over future access to EU labour and I will make sure that I represent their views in Westminster.”
He went onto praise the work being done on pig farms to address issues like antibiotic use. “I was hugely impressed by the tremendous work the industry, as a whole, is doing in introducing modern farming practices,” he said.
“This includes the use of more modern buildings with natural temperature controls and, in particular, a reduction in the use of antibiotics on livestock by as much as 60% by replacing them with other methods such as autogenous vaccinations which directly target the problem. As I have been campaigning for a reduction in the use of antibiotics this is particularly welcome news.”