Confidence within the pig sector will, hopefully, fully return during 2024, after tentative signs of recovery were seen in 2023, according to NPA chairman Rob Mutimer.
Mr Mutimer, a Norfolk outdoor producer, said 2023 felt ‘rather like the hangover from the two previous years of carnage’.
“We are at least seeing positive margins which is a blessing but confidence among the majority of producers is still very low with many having to restructure their business and plug financial holes from the previous years,” he said in his New Year message to NPA members.
“Thankfully, the herd numbers are starting to stabilise, and confidence will, hopefully, start to improve throughout 2024.”
He urged members to renew their subscriptions for 2024, stressing that the association relied on them to function. “Lizzie and the team have done an excellent job modifying their work practices to reduce running costs over the past three years – however, as costs have gone up for almost everything and the number of members has decreased due to the perfect storm that hit the industry, we have reluctantly had to increase the subscriptions,” he said.
Nominations for the NPA Pig Industry Group elections close very soon – on January 8, with voting commencing later in January.
Mr Mutimer said the elections provided an ‘excellent opportunity’ to become part of the group which advises the association on policy going forward for the next three-year term.
“It really is not an onerous job with two face-to-face meetings and two virtual meetings a year. We just want your opinions on a vast range of subjects and knowledge of the part of the industry you represent,” he said.
He thanked the current PIG group for all their help and input over the past three years, including some very experienced long-standing members, who are stepping down – Hugh Crabtree, Sam Godfrey, Howard Revell, and Sally Stockings.
“This will however provide an opportunity for others to have their say. We are not looking for people to simply rubber stamp what they hear, but to challenge any policies they do not agree with, as PIG works best when members challenge what they don’t like, and healthy debate thrashes out the best policy,” said Mr Mutimer, who is standing for another three-year term but has announced he won’t be seeking re-election as chair.
Mr Mutimer thanked chief executive Lizzie Wilson and her slimmed down team for their hard work during a very busy year.
“A lot of what has concerned the team this year has been around the supply chain review. We are seeing progress on this, and I am hopeful this will continue in early 2024. This is the critical time where we make sure Defra get the balance correct, which will create confidence for producers but not overly burden the supply chain making trade overly difficult,” he said.
“We all want workable contracts, and the balance of the review will be essential to its success.”
In his New Year message to allied industry members, NPA vice-chair Hugh Crabtree, who will step down from PIG after more than 40 years of involvement with pig industry trade associations, also highlighted the benefits of sitting on the PIG, as the nomination deadline looms.
“The Pig Industry Group – to which allied members are elected – is being slimmed down,” he said.
“The 2024 elections will provide four seats for allied members on the PIG. It is widely acknowledged within the NPA that the PIG has worked really well and that the contribution made by allied members is highly valued. We are absolutely at the heart of policy making.”
He also urged NPA members to renew their subscriptions. “Our pig trade association depends entirely on membership subscriptions from producer and allied industry members to continue its vital work in the sector,” he said.
“A strong representative body is very important and our association is unique in British agriculture in representing the industry interests of the whole pork supply chain. The cost of membership represents excellent value when compared to other marketing items and we know very well that the NPA team works tirelessly for the sector.”