By Aimee Mahony, NFU Chief Poultry Adviser
As conference season is in full swing, industry leaders look towards the start of November as they flock to Newport, Wales for the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference or as it’s most commonly referred to: EPIC.
This year’s agenda is packed to the rafters with interesting speakers who are presenting to the theme of ‘Food security: Poultry’s place in a sustainable supply chain’. The opening speaker is NFU President Minette Batters, and I know she is looking forward to addressing one of the most progressive, innovative, and forward-thinking sectors within agriculture.
Minette will be sharing the stage with the Farming Minster and the Chief Veterinary Officer amongst others, and it’s this variety of thought-provoking content that will bring people together for further discussion throughout the conference itself but from experience most probably also long into the night afterwards as well as the weeks and months that follow.
Food security and in particular campaigning on behalf of NFU members about the importance of British food and farming have been key drivers for Minette throughout her time at the NFU. In 2020 she led one of the most successful petitions ever, bringing together a coalition of chefs including Jamie Oliver, farmers, environmentalists, consumer groups and animal welfare experts – resulting in over one million people signing the NFU food standards petition. It is examples like this that show the true value in collaboration and leadership and whilst we may all feel like we are battling a multitude of challenges daily, we must also always keep one eye on the longer-term vision for the sector.
Whilst over the past few years the poultry sector has been dealing with the here and now of avian influenza, as the NFU we’ve also been playing our part in shaping a future strategy for dealing with the threat of disease. We have been an active part of the cross industry and government AI Vaccination Taskforce and as we approach November, we are expecting a report from the group outlining a summary of work and some key recommendations as we move forward. I realise the extent of turmoil that AI has caused so many of you and therefore it’s crucial that we collectively find a workable solution to combatting this awful disease. As is usually the case, collaboration is key.
Another important area at present where we are working with both the poultry sector and the government on support for the future is regarding the animal health and welfare pathway. Both in terms of grants for items of equipment for broiler growers and laying hen producers but also in a concept that is in its infancy at present around independent biosecurity checks. There isn’t too much more to say on this at present but watch this space…
I look forward to seeing those of you that are attending the upcoming shows and events, please do say hello if you see me.