Farmers must unify around the National Pig Association (NPA) as the sector goes through a time of significant change, a leading industry figure has urged.
Hugh Crabtree, chairman of the NPA’s Allied Industry Group, has called for 'unified and solid support' for the industry body to help overcome 'serious challenges'.
These include new post-Brexit trade deals, the spread of African swine fever, action by animal rights activists and increasing health and welfare regulation.
Because of this, he said farmers and processors should back the industry body as it had 'considerable influence on political decisions'.
“The upcoming NPA elections are vitally important as the industry faces serious challenges," said Mr Crabtree, who is also managing director of Farmex.
“We have 67 million consumers on our doorstep, but still import 60% of our pigmeat, much the same as 10 years ago.
"Per capita consumption also remains pretty much the same at around 24 kg, while poultry consumption has surged ahead, in 2019 amounting to 37.2 kg.”
In 2018 there were 10,976 holdings with pigs, compared with 10,729 in 2010, but, with the rise in hobby pig keepers, NPA membership has been falling.
“While the independent commercial pig farmer of old is a dying breed the number of people responsible for the husbandry of pigs hasn’t changed much,” he added.
“We will be exposed to the cold winds of international trade, so it is in everyone’s interest to join the NPA and help ensure a vibrant UK industry.”
The NPA is combining its Producer Group with the Allied Industry Group to form the Pig Industry Group (PIG) to improve communication and to represent sectors more fully.
The new group will be made up of ten producer members and seven allied industry members.
Nominations are now open until 11 January 2021, with voting commencing on 25 January and closing on 26 February.
Mr Crabtree said: “It is therefore very important for all sectors to support this organisation, and particularly, to both nominate members and then to vote."