The Morgans have been at it again… chirping on about how great pig farming is! Over the last couple of months or so, we, as a family, have been busy talking to the media. It all started when Radio 4 spent a week with us for #PigWeek. We took them through the jobs that we do from service and scanning, to growing and finishing.
It was just a snapshot, but nevertheless an insight into what we spend our time doing. We are lucky in some respects that we have various systems in operation.
We have a week’s worth of truly freedom farrowing – there really is no confinement or crate – (sense my amusement?!) among four weeks of very typical conventional crates. We have a slatted shed of our own for finishing pigs among our own straw yard accommodation and third-party sites, and we have an outdoor herd with progeny currently sold under the ‘raised without antibiotics’ brand. We told it as it is and the Radio 4 gang were excellent, allowing us to explain why, what and when we do things.
Our second media appointment was Channel 5 programme Springtime on the Farm, which was very much aimed at the joys of farming and the satisfaction of all the hard work and dedication resulting in new life – and the fact that the viewers could watch piglets being born was positive.
BBC Countryfile then approached us about doing a piece on how much customers understand about the labels on their pork products. We are passionate about producing pigs in straw accommodation but are very keen for consumers to understand why this costs more than a pig finished on slats and why WE believe they should be prepared to pay more for it.
This is our opinion and as we have both farrowing crates and a new slatted finishing yard – both of which are labelled as ‘intensive’ – we are not in a position to criticise them. The Countryfile piece was obviously edited, but still painted a picture of consumer confusion over what they are buying, or believe they are buying, and what the assurance label actually means.
My view is people should know how their food is produced and the reasons we do certain things on farm. I know that my team and I do the best job we can to provide a high welfare, high quality product. I think it’s really important we engage with consumers. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone and address the issues people have with the industry.
Speaking to the press is not for everyone, but if an opportunity arises to stand up and be passionate and honest about something we are proud of, then why not?
Vicky Morgan is part of a well- known pig farming family based at Pockthorpe, in Driffield. They breed and raise pigs on a variety of systems. Vicky represents the North on the NPA Producer Group.