Dr Zoe Davies, former chief executive of the National Pig Association (NPA), has been awarded the David Black Award in recognition of her contribution to the pig sector.
The prestigious award was presented by Defra farming minister Mark Spencer at the National Pig Awards held in London on Tuesday (22 November).
The accolade is awarded to an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding impact on the British pig sector through their work.
This year’s winner has been actively involved in the pig sector for many years. Until July this year, Dr Davies was chief executive of the NPA, a position she held for eight years.
She was with the NPA for 14 years in total. During her time at the helm, she became a figurehead for the industry, leading on every major issue affecting pig producers over the last decade.
Due to her expertise, she was continually able to shape government policy, facedown threats to the industry and give NPA’s members a strong voice.
In the last two years, Dr Davies has led the industry through one of the most challenging periods it has ever faced.
Her skills in representing the concerns of her members meant that she had the ear of key decision-makers in government, who subsequently convened roundtables and implemented measures to support the sector.
As the public face of the pig industry, she was able to use her high profile with the media to generate public sympathy for the challenges facing it.
Dr Davies has an extensive agricultural background, starting when she completed a PhD in pig welfare at the University of Reading in 1998.
She then spent three years as farms and trials manager for BQP, which included running a pig farm in Suffolk and being on the front line of the 2000 classical swine fever outbreak.
She joined Defra in 2002 as senior scientific officer, leading its livestock science unit, from there she moved to the NPA in 2008.
Dr Davies helped build and sustain healthy working relationships with Defra, AHDB and retailers, and in doing so, made it easier when problems arose to speak to the right people.
She helped reduce costs to pig producers through lobbying for sensible changes to legislation and derogations.
She also helped organise numerous campaigns, from ‘Save our Bacon’ to ‘Put Pork On Your Fork’, all aimed at encouraging the general public to get behind producers and buy British pork.
Mike Sheldon, chair of AHDB Pork Sector Council, said Dr Davies was an 'extremely worthy winner' of the award.
"Whether it was welfare, environment, disease, trade or any of the other range of issues that might impact the industry, Zoe was at the forefront and gave NPA members a strong voice.
"Furthermore, her work to support producers who have been victims of animal rights groups has been instrumental in pushing back on anti-farming rhetoric in the media.
"More importantly, she always went the extra mile to give those producers the help they needed to get through those challenging times."
Dr Davies said she was deeply moved to have been honoured with the award, which has been given to high-profile and worthy industry advocates in the past.
“To join this impressive list, which contains many people that I admire greatly, means so much, especially as I only ever considered that I was simply doing my best for an industry that I love," she said.