November 2015: Please let us know how we’re doing

It’s November already and the autumn round of regional NPA meetings has concluded. It was great to see so many of you there, generating some good discussion. Unexpectedly, the mood was more buoyant than I thought it would be, but I guess as prices have only just started to nose-dive, many aren’t feeling it quite so badly yet.

The question why the price has started to drop now did come up, specifically in relation to retrospective bonuses. Our sources tell us, however, that the most recent drop started as a result of contract renegotiations and new prices kicking in.

Many contracts have elements in now that are reviewed on a regular basis (often monthly) and this will have an effect, but retrospective bonuses could be having an impact. This is where a lower contract price is paid for pigs on the day, which can impact on the overall market price, but then a bonus is paid at some time later – maybe even up to six to 12 months – and this isn’t accounted for in the overall market prices, which is why they average out lower.

Apparently many of these contracts have disappeared, but if you’re offered one, or are on one, we’d like to hear about it. Delayed payments will only impact negatively on the market price overall and force it down more quickly, so are not a good thing!

As budgets start to tighten and we chase the last few people for their NPA subscriptions, it always serves as a reminder, listening to some question why they should pay, that I need to sharpen up on how we demonstrate value for money to members. Although many producers and allied industry companies do engage, attend meetings and learn about what we have done or benefit from our services individually, and therefore understand that value, there are those who don’t.

People who keep their heads down and get on with the day job, and those who aren’t really engagers, rightly question the benefit of NPA membership and need to know what it is we’re doing. Unfortunately, it isn’t always as simple as promoting the big wins – we can’t achieve a derogation on slat and slot widths every year for example – as much of what we do is plugging away on issues over time.

The medicated feeds Directive currently being debated in the Commission could take years to complete, but we have to be involved at every agonising stage, poring over each and every suggested amendment to ensure that we push back against the oftentimes crazy proposals and try to preserve medicated feed as a sensible way for farmers to be able to treat their pigs.

No other organisation is in the thick of it, defending pig farming and fighting your corner quite so vociferously, I guarantee it! I just need to figure out how to let the pig industry at large know about it. We’re currently running a membership survey (ring 02476 858780 if you want us to send you a copy) to give members an opportunity to tell us what they think about the service NPA provides and how we can improve it. Not always the most comfortable reading, but necessary in any case.

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About The Author

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