Pig producers have an opportunity – and perhaps even a duty – to come forward and play their part in shaping the industry’s future, according to National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Richard Lister.
Nominations for elections to the NPA’s Producer Group (PG) and Allied Industry Group (AIG) opened in October but so far, only a handful of nominations had been received. A special NPA elections website – www.votenpa.co.uk – has been set up to enable potential PG and AIG members to nominate themselves. An updated list of nominees and their election pitches can also be viewed at the site.
Mr Lister, who runs pig farms in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, has been a member of PG for 15 years and has chaired the NPA since March 2015. He is putting his name forward for another three years on the PG.
“It has been a really good experience,” he said. “You can learn a lot and benefit as an individual, but the main function of the producer group is to represent producers regionally and nationally.”
Mr Lister described the NPA, formed nearly 20 years ago to provide a voice for the industry when it was at its lowest ebb, as a ‘great democracy’. But he said it could only continue to function effectively if ‘positive and passionate’ people stepped up to represent their peers.
“With so much uncertainty over our future and so many challenges – what with Brexit, the volatile market, new antibiotic targets and the intense scrutiny on animal welfare – this is your opportunity to influence policy-making and create a better future. We are looking for people with a positive outlook who understand the industry and want to learn more about it, people who want to make a positive difference.
“At times it can be frustrating, but if you genuinely believe you have got something to offer and you are a team player, then go for it.
“Even if you are not on PG, it’s important that you feed into your representatives to make sure your voice is heard, so we can feed the views of the industry in through the right channels.
“The NPA is a great organisation with fantastic staff and a big task ahead. It’s up to us to make sure we use it to the full to shape our own future, rather than having others do it for us.”
Remember our roots
NPA vice-chairman and former chairman Richard Longthorp, who also farms in Yorkshire, has been involved with the NPA since its formation. He reminded members why the organisation was formed in the first place.
“Along with death and taxes, one of life’s other certainties is that s*** happens,” he said.
“But people, organisations and indeed industries are not defined by the s***. They are defined by how they cope with and respond to it.
“In the late nineties and early noughties the British pig industry had its fair share of said crap. But true to character the industry fought and fought and fought.”
He highlighted issues on the horizon for the pig sector today:
- Brexit and a worst-case scenario where we could once again be competing with pigmeat produced to significantly lower standards.
- A levy body that could become more and more centralised and generalist and less responsive to levy payer needs.
- A growing risk of exotic disease incursion.
“These potential dangers will sound uncomfortably familiar to those who lived and struggled through those dark years,” he said.
“But the industry responded then – with one of the most significant and beneficial outcomes being the formation of the NPA. Many of those involved have now hung up their boots and some are no longer with us.
“What we need are young, dynamic people to step into those boots. To stand on their shoulders. So, as NPA elections approach, will you put your head above the parapet and stand for election? Will you be defined by the s*** or the way you cope with it?”
How to nominate
To nominate online, go to the NPA’s new dedicated elections website www.votenpa.co.uk, which you can also access through the NPA website www.npa-uk.org.uk You will need two supporting signatures from members – a proposer and a seconder.
January 8, 2018 – nominations close
January 22 – online voting begins
Early February – candidates published in Pig World
February 5 – postal ballot for members who have not voted online
February 23 – polls close
March – results published online and in Pig World
For more information email: NPA@npanet.org.uk