As I mentioned at the end of my previous column, almost all the NPA team went to Dublin at the end of May for the European Pig Producers Congress. Now I was very excited about attending, not least because this was the first one I’ve been able to get to since my little boy was born (now almost three, can you believe it?), but also because I had really missed seeing the regular people that attend from all over the EU – such a useful place to pick up information. Granted, I see many of them at various meetings in Brussels, but there’s nothing like a couple of glasses of wine to get people from all countries together and talking serious shop – here the real story often comes out.
It seems that across the board, Europeans are talking about what happens in the event of a Brexit – we’ll know the referendum result by now – and countries such as Ireland, which exports a fair chunk to the UK, and Denmark are increasingly concerned as to what happens if we leave.
I picked up some interesting comments on various policy pressures, mainly on welfare and antibiotics, but also a general relief that they don’t have half as many animal rights organisations as we appear to have! I’ve offered our services for a small fee should that situation change and they’re in need of advice.
Although we’ve always encouraged Young NPA members to go to EPP, often helped by financial contributions from our allied industry members, there used to be many more producers involved. Membership numbers for the UK have declined to about 20. Okay, so the £100 joining fee doesn’t appear to give much apart from a reduced rate for the congress, but it’s really something that we need to challenge as it’s such a great community to be a part of. Every year you can go to a different EU country to learn more about their pig industry and visit key companies – which for Ireland happened to be the Guinness factory and the dairy producing milk for Baileys! Thankfully, David Goodier has offered to take over from Sophie Priest as the UK representative as Sophie has just had her own little bundle of joy (Congratulations Sophie!). David is full of good ideas and we’re going on a membership drive. Next year it will be in Norway and looks fantastic, so we’ll be in touch later in the year to try and tempt you.
The NPA team is becoming increasingly concerned about the FSA’s plans to release most of the data it holds as part of its open data project. Not least because it seems to think it can take all the information collected from abattoirs (CCIR data) and just dump it on the internet, seemingly with no real thought as to how the data might be used and by whom.
Aside from the fact that the quality of CCIR data is debatable, it hadn’t even thought about the possibility of a country we export to seeing information out of context and deciding to shut borders as a result.
Typically, industry has only just become involved, so whether we can have any useful impact at this late stage, only time will tell. It won’t put us off trying however!