Policy makers learn about pigs

Producers and policy makers met at Writtle College recently to discuss the realities of the pig industry.

The BPEX 'Introduction to the Pig Industry' event brought together representatives from the Environment Agency, Defra, Health and Safety Executive, Lantra and the RSPCA, as well as individuals working in the industry.

It revealed an acute lack of understanding about the real state of the pig industry by some parties, and highlighted the impact of different policies on production.

The day started with an overview of industry terms and how production works, followed by a presentation on the financial aspects of pig production including costs, returns, risks and their management.

This was followed by an outline on legislative issues affecting the industry such as environment, health and welfare, employment, health and safety and biosecurity.

The afternoon gave everyone the chance to tour the college pig unit and see the practical side of pig production.

The day was rounded off with a look at the proactive approach the industry was taking to help itself in terms of environmental strategies, staff development and knowledge transfer.

Stephen Plant, Defra cost sharing policy advisor, said: "It's easy for policy makers to sit in their ivory towers in London. The day gave a real hands-on experience and a better understanding of the totality of the industry. It also highlighted the benefits of partnership working. These kind of events are invaluable."

Alison Frogley, environmental agency technical advisor, said: "The day gave a real feel for the industry and how it works. We have about 200 staff nationally going out on farm with a core team of 25 where we target our training.

"I would recommend they attend meetings like this as it gives a good insight into how the industry works and raises awareness of the current difficulties facing producers. Agencies must be prepared to take these on board when talking to farmers."

Nannette Lane, project manager for Lantra, said: "I found the Continuous Professional Development area of the day really useful on how standards and qualifications are changing within the industry and how it affects our programme of activities. The whole day gave a useful insight into the industry and some hands-on experience."

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