October 2013 – Ready for a rollercoaster

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Lizzie Press and I’ll be taking over as NPA general manager while Zoë Davies is away on maternity leave. One of my responsibilities, therefore will be taking over the important job of writing the NPA update for Pig World, so I look forward to taking you with me on what I expect will be an exciting six month rollercoaster ride!

Myself and many others, including Nigel Penlington from BPEX, have been wading through 854 pages of environmental guidance for the past couple of weeks. Not my usual choice of bedtime reading I can assure you! This impressive document is called the “Bref”, which is guidance produced by the European Commission  detailing how producers must comply with IPPC, and contains everything from building design to nutrition to deadstock storage.

With such a hefty document I’m rapidly losing the will to live, but this is very important as it will affect many of our members and we have a number of serious concerns that we have already raised with Defra, such as incorporating muck within four hours and the fact that all deadstock storage must be sealed (fine) and refrigerated (definitely not fine!).

The document has also been sent unfinished, which really tells you everything you need to know about how this whole process has been conducted by the commission. It’s also quite obvious just how much the likes of Denmark and Germany have influenced the guidance, which means we have a fight on our hands to ensure the UK and our unique production systems are properly accounted for.

The NPA’s autumn regional meetings were due to start at the end of September, and kicked off in Newbury for the South Central region.

Now, I know many of you are in heads-down work mode, finally making the most of the current buoyant market, and don’t want to even consider the possibility of a disaster such as a notifiable disease, but unfortunately we think it’s important that you do. Particularly considering that African swine fever (ASF) is still rampant throughout Russia and Belarus, and foot-and-mouth disease is a constant presence in Turkey. We get several alerts a year from Defra of suspect notifiable disease cases; the last one was a few weeks ago, with a suspected ASF case that thankfully was found to be false, but it provided some of us with a very tense few days until the case was negated.

What these alerts do remind us is how important it is that we are prepared as an industry, and that’s why NPA’s regional meetings will be focused on disease contingency planning to ensure our members know exactly what to expect should the worst happen.  
So that was my first column! Apologies for the environmental overtone; it’s boring, but vital I’m afraid. Echoing one of Zoë’s previous statements, I’m hoping it will be a peaceful few months, but rest assured the NPA team will be working as always to ensure a seamless transition in your service.

> The NPA’s regions manager Lizzie Press is standing in as general manager during Zoë Davies’ maternity leave

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