NPA members have expressed an overwhelming desire for animal health initiatives to be recognised under a post-Brexit agricultural policy.
More than 100 people responded to an online survey run by the NPA last week seeking opinions on what the pig industry would like to see under a future domestic farm policy.
The recently-published Agriculture Bill sets out how future farm support in England will be delivered under a ‘public money for public goods’ agenda, which will replace direct payments in a phased transition between 2021 and 2027.
This will include a new scheme under which support will be provided for initiatives that enhance animal health and welfare. Respondents to the survey, who included indoor and outdoor producers, vets and the allied industries, set out come clear industry priorities for the scheme. Key findings included:
- 45% of respondents said an animal health and welfare scheme would be good for their business but 52% said the benefits would depend on the details of the scheme.
- About 80% of respondents identified funding for health initiatives as one of their top three priorities.
- The next most popular answers were funding for provision of manipulable materials and related delivery systems and for data monitoring, for example for water and feed use.
- There were mixed views on incentivising farmers to produce pigs with intact tails, with 36% in favour and 46% against. Comments suggested some producers were strongly opposed to the idea, while others needed more information about how the scheme would work.
The survey also sought views on funding available in future for larger infrastructure projects to promote productivity and deliver enhanced animal health and welfare and environmental standards. Key findings included:
- There was overwhelming support for funding for the construction of new buildings, with 63% of respondents citing this as their first choice.
- There was plenty of support for other options, too, notably new technology, automation and slurry control.
- There was overall agreement that this sort of funding would be beneficial, but differing views on the options to deliver the support, including tax breaks, interest relief and grant funding.
Other findings included:
- Support among outdoor producers for options for outdoor pigs under future environmental stewardship schemes.
- Lots of support for wider funding options being considered under the policy, including export promotion, marketing promotion, funding for research and development and skills and training.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies used the findings to set out the NPA’s priorities for a future farm support policy when, alongside producer and allied industry representatives, she met Defra officials on Monday.
She thanked everyone who had taken the time to fill in the survey. “We had an excellent response to the survey and it is really valuable for us to be able to present the views of members to Defra when we have these discussions,” Zoe said.
“It is very early days but we have been able to set out our core priorities, while also explaining to Defra the areas where we need more information.”