Court battle farmer wins pig vote


3 November 2000



Court battle farmer wins pig vote

By Alistair Driver

THE Lincolnshire pig farmer who led the industry into a legal battle with MAFF this year has topped the voting to elect the National Pig Association producer group.

Meryl Ward, former British Pig industry Support Group treasurer, narrowly beat current producer group chairman Stewart Houston into second place.

There were 16 places up for grabs, allocated on a regional basis, in the NPAs first democratic elections. The original NPA producer group had been appointed.

The elections were marred by apathy among the industry as only 400 farmers voted, just 30% of the NPA membership.

Mr Houston said this was disappointing, particularly because the NPA offered cheap membership to attract new members prior to the elections. This was largely ignored.

He said the elections have, however, introduced a number of new faces to the group alongside existing members who retained their places.

“These will bring some fresh ideas,” he said

Among the successful candidates are a number of former prominent BPISG members, including its former chairman Matthew Atkin.

NPA leaders are hoping the elections will transform the fortunes of the association, which has been struggling for members and money since its formation last year.

The NPA has been blighted by its unpopular stance on the BPISGs High Court action against MAFF.

The ad hoc group of farmers eventually lost its claim that ministers had discriminated against pig producers.

But NPA leaders believe they lost a lot of grassroots support by failing to back the action.

Now with the likes of Mrs Ward, who instigated the action, and Mr Atkin holding office in the NPA, they believe the association can finally claim to be the “single voice” of the pig industry.

NPA chief executive Mike Sheldon welcomed the successful candidates and thanked the unsuccessful ones voted off the group for their work.

“We need everyone to make a contribution, if we are to build on our first years operation, and there is no shortage of important work to be done,” he said.

The elected candidates are, in alphabetical order:

  • Matthew Atkin
  • Malcolm Baxter
  • James Black
  • Mike Blanchard
  • John Candy
  • Jim Dewhirst
  • John Evans
  • George Gittus
  • Stewart Houston
  • Richard Longthorp
  • Robert Persey
  • Philip Richardson
  • John Rowbottom
  • Rod Tuck
  • Meryl Ward
  • Pat White

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