By Peter Crichton

CRACKS are appearing in the structure and levels of support for the National Pig Association.

Although producer member ballots have to be submitted by 13 October, there are signs that the association is not receiving the support it needs to remain a powerful “single voice” for the industry.

Mike Sheldon, chief executive, has resigned his post with effect from the end of the year, and the search is already on for a replacement.

His successor will be faced with a whole raft of problems to be resolved in the year ahead.

These include a lack of grassroots support, with a 3 October meeting in the pig-dense Humberside region attracting only a couple of dozen producers.

Chairman John Godfrey has also warned of budget cuts in the future, which will limit the activities of the NPA. Mr Godfrey said that the association would have to “prioritise” backing for future issues.

Membership is still reported to be low, with the majority signed up under the NFU members “free” scheme – non-NFU membership is quoted as being inadequate.

Larger producers whose membership subscriptions are to be calculated on a per sow/finished pig headage formula have complained that, in spite of their membership fees running into thousands of pounds, they will have no more influence than a member with a token pig.

Herd size proportional representation is being put forward as an alternative rather than the existing system.

But as the NPA has pointed out, those producers who wish to influence the future running of their association will have to play a more active part in their day to day running arrangements.