January 2016: Let’s all help LIPs deal with its funding cuts

Where do the years go? Seems like no time at all that we were hoping for a better year for once, and here we are again, hoping for the same thing.

Our industry is lucky to have Ladies in Pigs (LIPs) to represent it; I think they’re more effective than any advertising, and we need to support them as an industry, and as individuals, better than we do now. I know that Sue Woodall, its brilliant leader, is concerned about the funding cuts LIPs is facing.

An example of what it does is the success of LIPs visits to various supermarkets in support of the AHDB’s Pulled Pork Campaign. News travels quickly, and one supermarket having heard of LIPs many successes, and in anticipation of its impending visit, had ordered 240 shoulders of pork instead of its usual 30. At the end of the day after the LIPs demo, it had sold 179. That tells me that it does a fantastic job.

I’ve been a supporter and follower since it started. We as an industry should be grateful for all LIPs does; for funding to be cut is a bit of a body blow, but AHDB Pork is being restricted in what it can give. I would urge every pig farmer, every reader, every company involved with our wonderful industry to put pen to cheque and give the girls a bit more support, so they can carry on doing what they do best.

So where’s the price going to finish up? Several people and companies involved reckon it is doom and gloom for the first four or five months of 2016. If everybody thinks that way, then no doubt that will happen. We’ll have a better idea by the time the Pig Fair comes round, as it’s usually a good indicator of the state of the industry.

Looking back, the improvement we’ve seen in production and the lowering of input costs is all due to superb breeding and management, and does help producers to hang on in there in the hope of a better future. There must be a limit to how much more we can do in a short time, as all the things we have improved take a while to take effect.

I have long been looking for a system which will give farmers £150/t for wheat and 150p/kg for pigs! That could be my New Year resolution as the arable boys are suffering as well, which I know to my own cost. One of the problems we have is that the firms we sell to and buy from are able to maintain their margins no matter what the price is.

I suppose the problem we have is the time it takes to produce a pig, about a year from conception, means by the time it reaches the market you either hit a high or low spot!

Hope you have a happy and hopefully prosperous New Year.

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About The Author

Sam Walton is a Yorkshire farmer and former pig producer, and the founding editor of Pig World.