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Latest David Black Award Winner Collects Accolade

by 5m Editor
1 November 2006, at 10:55am

UK - This year’s David Black Award winner is Philip Richardson. He received his award at 9am at the House of Lords this morning, from farming minister Jeff Rooker, reports the NPA's Digby Scott.

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Though he has never sought the limelight, Philip has become the face of the English pig industry, as those who shop at Budgens will know. He has a 340-sow unit in central Norfolk and much of his production goes to Budgens via Geo Adams and the pioneering LincPork farm-to-supermarket chain.

Excellent ambassador though he is, perhaps Philip’s greatest value to the pig industry comes not from his reluctant escapades in front of the camera but from his unusual ability to settle down with a bottle of aspirin and trawl in minute detail through draft legislation from Brussels and Defra, seeking bear-traps for pig-keepers.

Over the years he has saved the industry unimaginable cost by helping identify difficulties on the horizon and lobbying against them. Strange though it may seem to normal mortals, he claims to positively enjoy the challenge of reading the small print of a European Union directive and debating the precise meaning of a phrase from the pen of an Environment Agency lawyer.

The industry, he says, must try to ensure forthcoming environmental legislation is practical, sensible and fair, but that is ‘no easy task, given the level of understanding of agriculture within many sections of government’. Speaking at the award ceremony today, BPEX and NPA chairman Stewart Houston thanked Philip Richardson for his ‘valued involvement’ over so many years.

‘I first met him back in the mid-eighties when he chaired the British Pig Association commercial producers committee. The agenda items were very similar then to today’s issues… it just seems to me there are more of them theses days.’ Stewart Houston also thanked all the people who had been nominated for the award, for their efforts on behalf of the industry. ‘The quality of nominations over the last few years has been phenomenal, and that is why we must continue to value longer-term commitment.’

He went on to stress the importance of the pig industry’s continuing good relationship with Defra. ‘The outlook for the industry is for continued stability, although the recovery is still fragile. The much needed price increases we received earlier in the year have been partially eroded by energy and feed price increases.’

Last week’s exotic disease scare in Essex had bought into sharp relief the discussions the industry was having on sharing responsibility and costs. ‘As industry chairman of the joint industry and government working group, I have an ambition for a big win here. By working together we can reduce the risk of an incursion, and mitigate the results of one if we were unfortunate enough to succumb.

‘This is about more than border controls and government responsibility. This is about industry doing its share to keep disease out and prevent spread through internal biosecurity. ‘This is about a genuine partnership, which could change the interface between government and industry in a way that brings about better policy and delivery… a win for everyone.’

He said the industry would start working today on another new initiative - a pig industry environment strategy. ‘We’ve been dealing with environment issues in silos - IPPC, NVZs, Water Framework, emissions - and that is a hopeless state of affairs for all involved.

‘If we can emulate the success we are having with the pig health and welfare strategy, and focus an environment strategy on outcomes that deliver for citizens without breaking producers’ banks, guess what, we are back to ….a win for everyone.’

This year’s David Black Award winner describes himself as one of the dying breed of independent, indoor farrow-to-finish producers. As he is approaching retirement, and no family member wishes to follow him, he is content with the current size of his business and has no plans to expand or invest for the long term.

He is one of the founders of the pig assurance scheme and a current director of Assured British Pigs. He is keen to see assurance develop to keep ahead of international competition and to act as a basis on which British pigs can maintain marketable differentiation and increase consumer confidence.

Long association with agricultural research has convinced him of the need to maintain a viable and vibrant research sector if the industry is to survive long-term.

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