Comment: African Swine Fever has given a boost to our business

By Matt Donald, pig & poultry farmer, North Yorkshire

November brought a fantastic opportunity, to attend EPIC for the first time thanks to the Young Poultry Person Initiative scheme that the organising committee ran, I would firstly like to thank all the sponsors who allowed this to happen. This year’s theme, “Delivering progress through innovation and Efficiency” was of great interest to me, I’m always keen to see what’s next on the investment agenda.

All of the speakers were excellent and no-one can be singled out however I thought the “Young guns” session was inspiring, a great opportunity to let three people at the start of their careers on stage. All of whom gave a thorough insight into the work they do and showed their passion for poultry, speaking to others in the evening, it gave people an uplift in confidence in the industry.

In particular hearing of more automation and further advances in existing technology could pave the way for less reliability on labour and increased output of the farm. Something which is more crucial when the consumer appears to want higher welfare, lower environmental impact at a lower price!

I am still following the African Swine Fever crisis across Asia closely, now with reports of up to half of the sow herd gone, their demand for imported protein is higher than ever. Fantastic news for the pig side of our business, as prices seem to be pushing up, I just hope this follows through to poultry.

As most farmers were, I was very disappointed when watching “Meat: A threat to our planet?” last month, it was a very biased view of meat production, which failed to point out how supporting British is far more sustainable and less environmentally harming then imports.

In my opinion, there are too many people on the planet, and whether you follow a vegetarian or a meat diet, it is inevitable to sustain everyone there will be consequences for the environment and nature. Therefore, we all need to keep doing our part in communicating to the public, the high standards of welfare and environmental protection we all adhere to in the UK, to put food on the table of so many families.

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