This is just the start of the conversation

I’ve been working on our response to Defra’s consultation on future farming policy (the Command Paper) for so long now I’m starting to dream about it.

The whole NPA team has been totally immersed in drafting it, but many producers have also taken time to read it and feed in, which I am really pleased about.

The task now is to pull it all together. I’ve also been using various industry meetings to seek views and it’s been comforting to see that other sectors make very similar points, meaning we certainly won’t be a lone voice. Defra is apparently expecting over 100,000 responses to this, and you can bet many of those won’t have anything to do with agriculture, so standing out will be challenging! I see this very much as the start of the conversation, however, so expect plenty of opportunity to feed in after the consultation is over.

As if we weren’t occupied enough, Defra then kindly released a ‘welfare at transport’ consultation.

While we were expecting something to come out, we thought it would focus on exports of live animals for slaughter, so you can imagine my reaction when I found the document covered all transport, including within country moves and exports for breeding.

Once again I will be seeking information from members as we will need figures and examples to back up our position that trade of breeding stock needs to continue and to explain why transport duration should not be reduced.

Several members have commented on the two recent Countryfile episodes, one on the rise of animal rights activism and the other on what consumers say they want in terms of how pigs are produced, versus what they are willing to buy. Firstly, I want to commend the producers who put themselves forward to give comment or be filmed – I think you all did a fantastic job.

While far too much airtime was given to that delightful woman attempting to justify her organisation’s questionable activities and showing activist footage without explaining or balancing it, I do think the programme brought to light the sinister side of what these people do and the impact they have on hard-working farming families, helping to dispel that fluffy animal-loving blanket they shroud themselves in. I also thought that opening up farms to show the public that we have absolutely nothing to hide was a brave but necessary move. As my farming muggle mum said, the pigs looked equally happy in both systems and it just showed that the public are willing to buy whatever is cheap!

Finally – for anyone coming along to the Pig and Poultry Fair this year, do please pop in, say hello and feel free to have a sit down. We are on stand 72, sharing once again with Pig World and opposite AHDB. I’ve got the Jammie Dodgers on order!

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.