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NPA history

NPA was formed as the British pig industry's single voice in a turbulent era of market failure, rampant disease, retailer duplicity, political infamy and a dysfunctional levy-board. In most respects it has proved hugely successful at changing the landscape.

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November 1998

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November 1998

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November 1998

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Catastrophic, terrifying

In the second half of 1998 the bottom fell out of British pig producers' world.

Most had borrowed heavily to comply with ill-conceived United Kingdom unilateral legislation banning gestation stalls from January 1999.

And now, at the worst possible time, world pork prices went into freefall. British pig farms started haemorrhaging cash at a scale unprecedented in living memory. It was terrifying.

November 1998

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November 1998

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November 1998

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Double standards, double whammy

The pending stalls ban meant producers were losing money on every pig they sold, whilst incurring significant debt in order to quit stalls and convert to loose-housed sows.

Few gainsay the welfare benefits of loose-housing, but what producers found offensive was the unilateral nature of the legislation. Pig farmers in the rest of the European Union were free to continue using stalls, and even barbaric tethers, much cheaper production systems.

November 1998

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November 1998

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November 1998

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Body blow by Thatcher government

So who does history finger for this disaster?

Blame the Boston MP, the late Sir Richard Body — a pig-keeper himself — who introduced the Pig Husbandry Bill in 1991. Blame Margaret Thatcher. It was enacted on her watch, albeit with breathing space until 1999.

And never forget the infamous behaviour of multiple retailers. They supported the Body bill. And then, come January 1999, they continued piling their shelves high with cheap pork products from continental stall-and-tether pig units.

And just to squeeze every last penny out of this miserable market, they mislabelled these products so they appeared to come from British farms.

Market failure indeed. Retailer duplicity indeed. Political infamy indeed. Pig farmers were trapped. Most couldn't quit as liquidating their fast-shrinking assets would no longer cover their growing debt.

November 1998

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November 1998

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November 1998

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And then?

So what followed? Lies and subterfuge by politicians and retailers. More lies. Still more lies. And a levy-board that continued taking £millions from producers every year, yet failed to notice anything was amiss. Then classical swine fever in East Anglia. Then foot-and-mouth across the country. Then rampant wasting disease on tired, run-down units, owned by tired run-down pig farmers. And all this time, low prices.

Through it all shone the grassroots British Pig Industry Support Group, whose members fought for justice and ultimately succeeded in changing the face of the British pig industry.

BPISG was the genesis of today's National Pig Association. And NPA is keen its members never forget their roots.

November 1998

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November 1998

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November 1998

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Continued >>

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