In hot pursuit of the profitable GREEN PIG...

UK - How can pig producers improve their environmental credentials AND stay in business?
calendar icon 29 March 2007
clock icon 4 minute read

This is the problem taxing many as they regard the plethora of legislation coming their way, starting this June with Defra’s consultation on new NVZ rules.

And there may be an answer: Go green and add value.

Only the bare bones of an industry environment strategy exist at the moment, but these are gradually being fleshed out and will be put to the industry later this year in the form of a consultation document.

The Pig Industry Environment Strategy is the brainchild of NPA and BPEX chairman Stewart Houston.

When I asked him today whether it really would be possible to come up with a framework that tames the environment beast, his response was: “We HAVE to make it work. What other option is there?”

The aim of the strategy will be to help pig-keepers turn new and existing environment legislation to their advantage, perhaps by using a farm assurance bolt-on to create a new Green Pig premium brand.

This will be achieved by working with Brussels, Defra, the Environment Agency and others to create a more joined-up and more proportional regulatory framework.

The strategy steering group accepts the pig industry cannot avoid the new environmental controls heading its way. So it must work with others to adapt and adopt the regulations, and then to promote the greenness of its products.

Key to the success of this strategy will be engagement by the whole industry and the ability to demonstrate each pig-keeper’s improving green credentials.

At a recent meeting of the Pig Industry Environment Strategy steering group, members agreed the goals of the strategy should broadly be:

  • To get the whole supply chain motivated and involved.

  • To work with Defra and the Environment Agency to reduce the regulatory burden on both sides of the regulatory divide.

  • To demonstrate improvement in environmental performance and resource use.

  • To develop the tools and understanding to manage the environmental impacts of pig farming.

A strategy document is being drawn up by Reading Agricultural Consultants, which later this year this will be offered to the whole industry for comment.

BPEX is handling the administration of the steering group but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be prepared to bankroll the entire operation when it comes to fruition. Income will have to be sought from other sources.

Current partners in the venture to find a new way forward are BPEX, NPA, NFU, Defra and the Environment Agency.

Speaking after the steering group meeting, BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan said, “At the moment the focus of producers is on IPPC and whether the threshold will be lowered.

"But there is a bigger issue. The environment is going to be the big policy driver for the foreseeable future. We have to find a way of making the regulatory side more manageable and look for ways of exploiting the opportunities that exist.

“What we are attempting to do with the Pig Industry Environment Strategy is to pull it all together into a vision for the future.”

By Digby Scott, NPA

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