Christmas Q&A special – East Yorkshire farmer, and industry stalwart, Sam Walton

Sam tucks into a festive fare of EU red tape, retail pricing habits and a heartfelt word of congratulation for Ladies In Pigs.

Q1 – What was your pig sector highlight/lowpoint of 2014?

“The thing that pleased me most this year was that at long last, Ladies In Pigs were recognised by being presented with the David Black Award. I am not sure how much people appreciate just what they have done for our industry. They are superb and every pig farmer should be a member and pay his £10 a year subscription.”

Q2 – What do you most hope will be achieved by UK pig producers in 2015?

“Freedom from imported disease and also red tape emanating from Europe, of which 90% is of no relevance to our producers! No-one in their right mind is going to do anything which will affect the wellbeing of his herd. A lot of the suggestions are just jobs for the boys, so as they can tick boxes. They need to get out onto pig farms and ask them their opinion before deciding X, Y and Z. What applies on a farm in Eastern Europe or Mainland Europe for that matter, need not necessarily be applicable to the UK.

“I know some people bang on about pork being cheaper from Europe and it may well be, but if they have to conform and jump through the hoops we have, then it could well be another story. I am absolutely confident that we have some of the best producers in the world here in the UK and not only do we comply with the rules and regulations, we gold-plate them!”

Q3 – What one pig industry experience did you enjoy most in 2015?

“On every farm I visit I always see something I have not seen before. Farmers are the most inventive of people and I always enjoy all the visits but would not want to single out anyone in particular. However, this year I have to say I think the new National Pig Awards were a huge success and some of the results obtained by the entrants were mind boggling.”

Q4 – Free pig sector comment – something you feel strongly about.

“This is something I have banged on about for years, namely the need for a fairer three-way split on the products we produce. Once the price starts to slide, it tends to keep on sliding but there is never a reduction at the retail outlet. The fact that the price dips elsewhere, for whatever reason, should have no bearing on our market.

“I remember the time when we were 105% self-sufficient in pork and 50% in bacon. I doubt if we are now more than 30-35% totally self-sufficient. A lot of that is down to red tape and greedy multiple retailers importing product. Two examples of their dictatorship are the two-for-one syndrome, and we know who supplies the extra one, and what has recently come to light, the fact that some retailers demand money upfront from suppliers to allow them to keep supplying their product to the retailers. I would love it if my corn merchant gave me a fat wad to let him have my cereals at a price I could also dictate!”

Today’s tasty photo is from ALDI whose current Porkwatch rating shows the supermarket stocking 100% British pork and sausages. 

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