17 July 2000
NPA slashes fees to keep members

By Alistair Driver

THE National Pig Association has slashed its membership fees in a bid to encourage more farmers to join the struggling organisation.

Subscriptions until the end of this year are available for 50+VAT, compared to the usual price of about 220+VAT for a farmer with 200 breeding sows.

The association has struggled to attract new members since it was set up last year. It currently represents only around half the farmers within the industry.

Mike Sheldon, NPA chief executive, said the industrys financial difficulties were partly to blame for the associations failure to attract more members.

But he admitted that the NPAs unpopular stance over a judicial review brought by pig farmers against the government last month had also cost it support.

NPA leaders were stung by criticism over their failure to support the review, which aimed to force ministers to grant financial aid to pig farmers.

But the NPA board failed to make an appearance on the opening day of hearings in London on 7 June, and appeared only briefly on the second day.

Mr Sheldon said the association could not have supported the case against the government while negotiating with ministers about aid for the industry.

However, farmers unhappy with NPA leaders could join the association and stand for election to its Producer Group, which plays a key role in NPA policy.

“Farmers have voiced concerns about the leadership, but now they have got the chance to elect the people they want to run the organisation,” said Mr Sheldon.

Digby Scott, spokesman for the British Pig Industry Support Group, which initiated the judicial review, welcomed the reduction in membership fees.

The BPISG would put forward some of its members for election to the NPA Producer Group prior to voting this autumn, he indicated.

From the start of next year, NPA subscription fees will revert to the current rates of 1.10/sow for farmers with breeders and finishers.

Producers with only breeders will pay 55p/sow. Producers who just finish pigs will pay 3p/pig.