August 2016: It’s time to show how responsible England’s pig producers really are

Even though for us (clearly not most of you!) this is a relatively quiet time of year as politicians head off for their summer recess and civil servants take a few weeks off to calm their post-Brexit nerves, there’s plenty going on.
I’m pleased to say the animal rights lot appear to have gone back to ranting about badgers, so it’s gone largely quiet on that front, allowing us to get on with the day job. Part of that involves preparing for our new webmaster starting in August!

Digby, who’s been a mainstay of the NPA for longer than many of us can remember, has been trying to gently extract himself so he can go and explore pastures new. It took some time for me to accept that I would have to let him go, but eventually we set about finding someone to run the webpage and manage the vitally important NPA communications.

We’ve also had a new website developed, with Digby’s help. Rather cleverly, we’ve also managed to pinch Alistair Driver from the Farmers Guardian to fulfil that role. We’ll be sharing half of his time with Pig World, and that synergy makes a lot of sense, but will keep him busy. So, plenty of sadness as Digby will be missed more than he’ll ever know, mixed with a certain level of excitement for the future.

Discussions have also been underway about whether the electronic medicines book (eMB) should be made compulsory under Red Tractor. The website poll we ran showed that while most understand the need to record, some still don’t see why we need to do so electronically.

Although you have to record medicine use on farm, it currently goes nowhere – not even the current Red Tractor annual collation. Meanwhile, Government is busy setting reduction targets for agriculture as part of its global obligation (no Brexit get-out clause here!) and expects us to provide data to prove we’re doing our bit.
eMB was designed to offer people a simple way to upload collated usage data to meet requirements. You can use it as a full medicines book, but that isn’t obligatory. The Government supports eMB as it part-funded its creation.

There’s no escaping the fact that you’ll have to share your antibiotic use figures at some point soon. We already have to set sector specific targets by Spring 2017 (and it’s because of the work we’ve done already that we’re being allowed to do it) but we have to know what we’re using in the first place before we can set a target to reduce!

Defra’s Chief Vet has told me that Government will legislate if it has to, and if it does, you can bet the pig industry will suffer. So don’t blame Red Tractor or assume that what you’re doing is enough. We need to demonstrate what a responsible, forward-thinking, engaging and proactive bunch of farmers you are!

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About The Author

Dr Zoë Davies is chief executive of the NPA. For more information visit: