January 2016: Take time to reflect on 2015

Like many other people at this time of year, I’ve been spending some quality time with my family. In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in deepest, darkest, Derbyshire with my father and brother, who’ve taken the opportunity to provide me with some face-to-face levy payer feedback (even if it’s for the dairy sector).

As you can imagine, conversations can get a little heated around the dinner table and, in my case, potentially more so than the average household, especially if the topic strays onto spending reviews, EU regulations, or on-farm inspections. I have to admit, though, there are occasions when I’m in agreement on some of these subjects.

However, despite the occasional heated debate, I really value the festive period because usual work schedules slow down and time can be taken to reflect on all that has happened in the previous year. I’ve seen progress in a number of key initiatives this year. The Significant Diseases Charter has been implemented and used within the industry. I’ve seen the final stages of the Biosecurity Hazard Perception tool being prepared, ready for launch in the New Year. And last, but by not means least, I’ve seen the building of the electronic Medicines Book for the pig industry (eMB-Pigs) being brought to the trial stage in preparation for testing this month.

The pace of some of these projects can be break-neck at times, and it’s easy to forget how much progress can be made in such a small amount of time.

My role within AHDB Pork now means that I’m often more aware of the external political pressures placed upon the industry, and how there are a band of individuals working, in the background, to try and ensure that any political decisions being made at EU or national level don’t have a detrimental impact on the industry.

I once read the phrase ‘politics is a bargain between beggars’, and the analogy now seems rather appropriate as I increasingly see various organisations coming to the table trying to make the most with limited resources; financial, human or otherwise.

I’m immeasurably proud to be working in the pig sector (sorry dad), as I think there’s a much more proactive attitude towards getting things done for the benefit of the wider industry. There have been many projects that I’ve been involved in where it’s been the total commitment of all the industry stakeholders, including many producers, that has led to our industry having many schemes and programmes that are the envy of other livestock sectors.

The New Year is certainly a good time to think about new beginnings and new starts (such as the launch of eMB-Pigs), but it’s also a time to reflect on achievements and acknowledge all who’ve been involved. So, I wish a happy New Year to everyone, especially to those who continue to make the pig industry what it is.

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About The Author

Martin Smith joined AHDB Pork in September 2014 and is the organisation’s veterinary team manager. He specialises in animal and public health, disease prevention and animal welfare.