Pig World invited industry leaders to share their personal highs and lows from 2016, while also expressing a pig sector wish for 2017. Today’s contribution is from Zoe Davies, Chief Executive of National Pig Association.
PW – What was your pig sector highlight/lowpoint of 2016?
ZD – My low point was most definitely dealing with all of the animal rights incursions earlier on in the year – at one point it was just so relentless I thought they were never going to stop! However, the NPA team worked so well together and we managed to keep most of the damaging stories out of the press and limit the impact of those that slipped through.
I was also happy that in the vast majority of exposes, there was no wrong doing on the farms, despite what the vegan groups tried to picture. It did highlight however that there are a lot of really old buildings out there that don’t look great to your average consumer – hence the need to focus on finding investment opportunities for those that can take advantage of them.
My high point was definitely receiving the special Chris Brant award at the National Pig Awards in November. We were all so humbled and extremely proud to have been honoured by our own and it will always serve as a pick me up when times get tough reminding us that we have your support.
PW – What do you most hope will be achieved by UK pig producers in 2017?
ZD – That UK pig producers will be profitable and have the confidence to re-invest in their businesses.
Brexit has caused much uncertainty, but there will also be opportunities for people if they are willing to take them and NPA will play a key role in identifying those and helping people to take advantage where they can.
There is no doubt in my mind that the pig business will get increasingly though, consolidated and challenging, but we have the most diverse pig production systems and we should be using that to our advantage rather than just falling in and competing with the rest.
I also hope that everyone will be able to get their data onto the eMB and that they find the experience simple and painless and have access to support to help if they have any issues!
PW – What one pig industry experience did you enjoy most in 2016?
ZD – Difficult this one, but for me it is the regional meetings that we do twice a year. Just touching base with our members, knowing that we make a difference to peoples businesses, sometimes being challenged (which is good!) but generally knowing we are on the right track is what drives me and makes me want to continue delivering.
We may not always get it right but most of the time we do, and we always give it 110%. I am most fortunate to have such a fantastic team around me – NPA certainly wouldn’t be the impressive force that it is without them.
PW – Free pig sector comment – something you feel strongly about.
ZD – I’ve been really impressed in the main about how the whole industry has risen to the antimicrobial resistance challenge this year.
No-one likes change, and this has been hoisted upon us quite forcefully and quickly, but the positive attitude I have seen, the reduction programmes already put in place on farm, the focus on good biosecurity and the willingness of pig farmers to get involved has been amazing.
It’s one thing to tell the officials that we are making changes, but even better to show the proof – which is exactly what the antibiotic sales report showed, especially for the pig sector.
I just hope we manage to retain the use of Zinc Oxide and can continue to show how responsive and responsible our industry can be when it counts.