29 October 1999
Infighting hits pig sector

By Donald MacPhail

CONTROVERSY is raging over the future direction the National Pig Association should take, following the resignation of one of its co-chairmen.

Graham England stepped down just before the NPAs first formal meeting, saying the group should forge closer links with the NFU presidency.

But John Godfrey, who has since been elected sole chairman, believes the NPA already has good ties with the NFU.

Mr England and Mr Godfrey oversaw the formation of the new group in June from the merger of the NFU pig council and the British Pig Association.

Although some reports have quoted Mr England as saying he felt the NPA was a backward step, he denied things had “gone wrong” since the group was founded.

Instead, he said that as his work in setting up the organisation was complete, it seemed an appropriate time to bow out.

“I had to give my commitment for three years and felt that I didnt want to do that. I thought it was time to let someone younger take it forward.”

Mr England added: “It is essential for the NPA to use the NFU presidency in its work. The NPA is weaker without NFU support.”

But Mr Godfrey disputed these claims. “Ive no problem with having close ties with the NFU. In fact, I believe we need close ties with the NFU.”

The future direction of the NPA is now in question.

Ian Campbell, NPA spokesman for East Anglia, believes Mr Godfrey should also resign and in favour of someone unconnected to either of the merged groups.

Mr Campbell, who is also a spokesman for the British Pig Industry Support Group, said some members perceived the NFU as being too conservative.

“We must make our own home and have our own credibility, not ride on the back of the NFU or anyone else,” he said.

Mr Campbell added: “The real solution would be for the NPA to appoint a new chairman from neither background.”

The NPA estimates that 30% of members will be forced into receivership by Christmas because producers are losing £7 on each pig sold.

The crisis is blamed on extra costs from improved animal welfare, the strength of Sterling and knock-on costs from the BSE crisis.