Mick Sloyan wins David Black Award

Mick Sloyan, a hugely influential figure in the British pig industry over four decades, has won the prestigious 2018 David Black Award.

Mick retired as AHDB strategy director in the summer after 40 years of working in the levy body in its various guises.

Mick received his award today at an industry breakfast at the House of Lords, attended by politicians and industry leaders. It was presented by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity.

The award is presented each year to someone who has made a valuable and sustained contribution to the British pig industry.

The independent award judges said his ‘influence, guidance, encouragement and wise counsel have been evident at all critical points in the pig industry over many years’. Their citation said there was appreciation for his contribution from right across the pig, which they described as an ‘incredible achievement’.

The citation read: “His contribution has always been valuable and it has been sustained over a full and very varied professional career in the UK sector. Despite the usual stiff competition, the judges were very clear that Mick Sloyan stood head and shoulders above the field as as the outstanding candidate of whom the industry can be very proud.”

Mick said: “It was a surprise but I’m delighted and honoured that people feel that I’m good enough to win it. It’s not really about what I’ve done, though, it’s been about working as part of a fantastic team over the years. And if I’ve learnt anything in my career, it’s been to keep things simple. If people get it, the industry will continue to succeed.”

His 40-year career started in 1977 with the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC). After becoming Sector Director of AHDB Pork (then BPEX), he helped steer the industry through some difficult times, including the sow stall ban, 1998 price crash, the loss of export markets after classical swine fever hit in 2000 and FMD in 2001.

Mick added: “Those in the sector who survived had a clear vision about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to succeed. We marketed aggressively, telling the story about high welfare and our highly professional industry. There was a real story to tell. We kept it simple, helped increase industry efficiency and helped people in the sector become more resilient.

“We also needed to find alternative markets which really kicked off our interest in exports and we decided to focus on China in 2004 where we achieved market access in 2011 – a real success story which continues to bear fruit.

“As a levy board today AHDB is very much viewed by the industry as an organisation that can make a positive contribution to its future.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.