The 2014 Ed Rainy Brown Memorial Award has been presented to an inspirational figure in the Scottish pig industry, Sandy Howie.
Howie stepped down as chairman of Scottish Pig Producers last year and an unprecedented number of nominations were received suggesting that his vision and commitment to co-operation in the industry should be recognised. The award is jointly sponsored by NFU Scotland and Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS).
Katy Rainy Brown presented Sandy with the award at last night’s SAOS Annual Conference Dinner at Crieff Hydro.
Sandy joined the Board of Scottish Pig Producers in March 2000 and was appointed chairman in May 2004. His tenure as chairman coincided with a time of fundamental change in the Scottish pig industry and Sandy’s guidance, determination and passion helped to steer the industry through some very difficult times. He has boundless enthusiasm and an intense knowledge of the industry which, coupled with a particular skill for negotiating, has successfully brought together a broad cross section of industry players on many occasions.
During Howie’s chairmanship, Scottish Pig Producers secured a contract with Asda which brought stability to the Scottish pig market, and a joint marketing venture with Progressive Lean Pigs in Northern Ireland saw a huge increase in turnover. He was also instrumental in work with the SSPCA to set up the SSS Pork animal welfare scheme and improving the overall health of the Scottish pig herd through Wholesome Pigs Scotland which he chaired from 2000. He has also held positions on the NFUS Pigs Committee and SAOS Council.
Tributes to Howie’s work on behalf of the co-op members were led by Allan Bowie, NFUS Vice President, who announced the winner, commenting: “Sandy Howie is one of the finest and most successful supporters of co-operation in the Scottish farming sector. In his years in the chair at Scottish Pig Producers, he steered members through some turbulent times in the marketplace, navigated the closure of large pig processing sites in Scotland and helped put in place a major retailer deal that had a significant impact on the fortunes of his co-op members.
“The co-operative structure that Sandy has helped to put in place means that we still have a pig sector in Scotland that we can be positive about and proud of. As a measure of that success, seeing Northern Irish producers also recognising the business benefits from being part of the SPP model should give Sandy a tremendous sense of achievement.”
Andrew Peddie, SAOS chairman, added: “Sandy’s contribution to the entire Scottish pig industry has been immense. He spoke at our SAOS conference a couple of years ago about how co-operation could help farmers create a negotiating position in an industry dominated by plc processors and supermarkets. Strategies like these which Sandy helped set up delivered just such a position for SPP members.
“He has never been known to rest on his laurels and constantly seeks improvements and new initiatives to improve the whole supply chain. In a year where the SAOS conference theme is ‘Growth and Resilience through Co-operation’, Sandy provides the perfect example of how to go about this.”
Sandy started his pig business with a few sows in a rented pig unit in 1988, before purchasing Baluss, a 200 acre farm near Mintlaw in 1991. Last year he completed a new unit with state of the art pig management systems which generates its own electricity through wind
power and maximises the fertiliser benefits of the slurry. This new unit is capable of producing 9,000 finished pigs each year for the Scottish market.