By Matt Donald, pig & poultry producer, north Yorkshire
At the end of October, I had an amazing opportunity to speak at EPIC. The conference was a fantastic event, both for learning and networking, it was great to be back after a three-year break. There was obviously a lot of focus on avian influenza and other challenges we all face right now.
Placed in the young guns session (a compliment I know) I focused on my perceptions of the future, specifically the opportunities. I tried to deliver an upbeat presentation highlighting a lot of positives but most importantly to look after yourself and your own well-being, when there are so many challenges out there at the moment it is easy to get buried in the sand. Remember we are producing the most demanded protein in the world right now, which is a hugely positive story for all of us involved.
Everyone is thinking about just getting out of winter at the moment, both financially stable and disease free. We need the support from supermarkets for both of these, farmers are currently the ones taking 100% of the risk when they place birds on the farm and retailers need to back the industry if we are to move forwards. The higher the risk, the more certainty farms need.
A combination of AI and long term unfair prices for eggs is leading to empty space on shelves. I think food security is moving up the government agenda, and these empty shelves may just highlight the importance of protecting food production here in the UK, alongside not exporting our carbon footprint, but something has to be done fast, before it is too late and farms are out of business.
We have such a great industry that has always worked together to overcome issues, plenty of positive conversations at the conference made me come away and know that there is light at the end of this tunnel. If the whole supply chain works together, we can continue to supply affordable versatile protein to the consumer. Note, the whole supply chain involves everyone up to it landing in the consumers hands.