For the first time in the almost 30-year history of the association, the Managing Board of the European Pig Producers (EPP) e.V. met from 13-15 March 2018 in Finland. In addition to working through the agenda, a visit to a pig farm and a large slaughterhouse and consulting company were scheduled. As a result, the members of the managing board were able to familiarise themselves with the special aspects of pork production in Finland "from farm to fork".
Due to its climate, the population density and the basic conditions, Finland cannot be compared 1:1 with countries like Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium. Nevertheless, pig farmers can also learn from their Scandinavian colleagues, and therefore the members of the managing board have also taken many impulses back home with them from this meeting EPP President Gert van Beek from the Netherlands thanked the Finnish colleague from the managing board, Taru Antikainen, for her openness and willingness to open her company for her colleagues - by no means a given in times of raging African swine fever.
Of course, one of the central questions was how the Finns "carry through" the curly tail up to slaughtering. Taru Antikainen makes no secret of this, as she's contributed to answering this question in various EU committees for years: Optimum climate and adapted feeding in all phases of animal husbandry, sufficient space, consistent animal monitoring, site hygiene and robust genetics play a decisive role for her. It's primarily a matter of minimising the stress level for the animals. In her opinion, completely new barn systems are not necessarily required for this purpose. Partially slatted floors with liquid feeding function very well when the specified points are observed, as the Antikainen farm shows.
After 2003 in Dresden and 2011 in Münster, this year's annual meeting of the European Pig Producers (EPP) will take place for the third time in Germany. The organiser is the German Association of the European Network for Pig Farmers (Deutscher Verband des europäischen Netzwerkes für Schweinehalter). Through the congress location in Landshut, this time the particular focus during the farm and industry visits is on the special aspects of Bavarian pig farming. However, as part of the three-day conference programme, the current basic conditions for pig farmers in Europe are also examined. The general topic is therefore "Changing pig production", however many farms must subject themselves to a change of this kind to remain competitive in future. Not only globalisation and digitalisation, but also climate change and consumer behaviour change the basic conditions, and with them also the possibilities for development. Recognised speakers will name the challenges and show the opportunities. Interested practitioners can obtain information and register for the 2019 EPP Congress at www.pigproducer.net.
The inaugural appearance of representatives from the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) at the 2018 EPP Congress in Switzerland recently prompted a three-day reciprocal visit by the EPP to the Johannesburg / Praetoria region.
During this year’s Cattle & Pig Event at EuroTier 2018 our former president Erik Thijssen was honored by DLG president Hubertus Paetow. For his “candid, communicative and selfless nature” Erik Thijssen was awarded with the DLG silver medal for international relationship. Over his nine years of presidency countries like Ireland, Finland and Switzerland joined EPP alongside 80 new members. To Paetow, this indicates the success of Thijssen’s work.
As EPP / Pig farmers we are already involved since the first outbreak years ago. Till last week it enters our nearby region it seems the rest of world is awakening. This could help us to control the challenge, and we should take that opportunity with both hands.
At the General Assembly of the European Pig Producers (EPP) e.V. in Sursee (Switzerland) on 1 June 2018, the members elected Gert van Beek (51) from the Netherlands as their new President. He won the election in a secret ballot ahead of his fellow candidate Hugh McReynolds (56) from Ireland and thus succeeds Erik Thijssen, who had headed the Club for the last nine years.
During a week-long study trip from 17 – 24 September 2017 to the Midwest, 32 members of the EPP gained some interesting insights into pig production in the US. The group visited farms in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin to share information and experiences with famers in these regions.