Delivering the future of pig farming

It’s all about our levy-payers. This may seem an obvious thing to say, but it is worth restating from time-to-time.

Mike Sheldon, AHDB board member and Pork Sector Council chair
Mike Sheldon, AHDB board member and Pork Sector Council chair

Especially given the unique place AHDB occupies as a public body with no core public funding, working across multiple agricultural sectors, in contact with anyone from academics to NGOs and working for both farmers and processors, domestically and internationally.

This complex landscape can cause some individuals to get carried away with extravagant ideas about what we are trying to achieve, but, in the end, we keep reminding ourselves that our goal, at all times, is to deliver the best possible value for money for our levy-payers’ funds.

Best value for money comes particularly into focus when money is short. No producer needs reminding that their own funds have been under enormous pressure for the last year or so, but that pressure is also growing on AHDB.

Fewer pigs mean less levy income, and so our attention has turned to the challenge of cutting our coat according to our cloth.

We spent time gathering the views of our levy-payers in our Shape the Future survey earlier this year.

Since then, the Pork Sector Council has been considering how to put the views expressed into action.

Despite the financial pressures on us, I am rather happy that this process has brought greater clarity and coherence to our thinking and has resulted in the clearest Sector Plan we have ever delivered.

Guided by our levy-payers, the Sector Plan concentrates on three key themes: Exports, Marketing and Reputation, all underpinned by the substance provided by our data, our science and by our people.

To be blunt, if a piece of work does not support one of those three themes directly and isn’t better than another suggestion, then we won’t do it.

This has meant some hard choices, but it has brought real focus to our Sector Plan.

Levy payers will have a number of opportunities to examine our plans and choices.

In particular, I recommend that you register for our Sector Plan launch day on November 10.

On the day, the Pork Sector Council will present the plan and take questions and comments directly from those attending.

This will be an online event, so, with luck, you will be able to fit it into your busy day and get best value from your time.

Find all the details and register at www.ahdb.org.uk/shapethefuture

Mike Sheldon is AHDB board member and Pork Sector Council chair

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