25 April 2000
NPA lacks support from pig farmers
By Peter Crichton
CLAIMS are emerging that support from grassroots farmers for the newly formed National Pig Association are well below expectations.
The association was set up six months ago as a new fast-reaction body to look after the interests of UK pig producers.
It was designed to be an amalgam of the National Farmers Union, British Pig Association and British Pig Industry Support Group.
Existing pig farmers who were NFU members were granted automatic first-year “free” NPA membership to get the association off to a good start.
But according to the NPA, the NFU members in the association may account for only between 50% and 70% of all pig farmers in the UK.
And because many bigger pig farmers are not thought to be NFU members, less than half of the pigs in the country could represented by NPA members.
Six producer members of the NPA also sit on the board of British Pig Executive, the new promotional arm of the Meat and Livestock Commission.
NPA chief Ian Campbell has said that, apart from NFU members, there has been insufficient support for the Association from pig farmers.
This is causing great concern, said Mr Campbell.
Mr Campbell claims many producers are sitting on the fence. Meetings have been held across the country, but too few subscriptions have actually been paid.
Pig producers who join are charged according to the numbers of pigs they breed and/or finish, with farmers who buy-in stock charged at 3p/pig sold per year.
The annual subscription rate for breeder finishers is calculated at 1.10 per sow, with a 50% discount for weaner producers.
Although none of these rates seem high, some producers claim that they have other priorities and funds are too tight to warrant expenditure at this level.
The annual subscription for a typical 500-sow breeder/finisher works out at 550. For a 2500-pig finisher unit, it amounts to about 300.
There are also complaints that the NPA does not operate at a local or regional level and is too “London-oriented”.
However, membership levels at the end of the “free” period will indicate to what extent the NPA represents the industry.
Mr Campbell is now urging full backing if the aims of the association are to be upheld and producers receive the backing of a powerful lobby group.