Kate Morgan - High welfare systems - Can they meet world food demand?
I am 29 years old and live in the small town of Driffield in East Yorkshire. I am a Director of our family pig farm which has 1700 breeding sows and takes the progeny to slaughter, selling to Sainsbury’s via Cranswick. The whole family is involved in the business, my Mother and Father and also my two older sisters.
I studied at Newcastle University and graduated in 2003 with a 2:1 joint hons in Agri Business Management. After University I worked in marketing but this was not for me! So I decided to do a ski season and then continued to spend a year travelling round the World. I have many hobbies, ranging from Eventing my two horses to playing hockey and running.
We had a lovely day in Tianjin sightseeing, Mr Fan certainly treated me! He put us up in an amazing hotel and then made sure we had everything we wanted, he bought me gifts so that I would remember China, the hospitality and kindness of him really was something which I thought was just how he was however, I later found out that this is quite normal for Chinese people, they are so keen to make us happy and spoil us, at times this really was quite awkward but I was assured that they wanted to make sure I had a great memory, a very different way! We headed back to Beijing that night and had a lovely meal with a little too much Chinese Wine! And I can defiantly say I don't like it but that did not stop Mr Fan! The night was finished in a karaoke room, people who know me don't worry I did not make them listen to my attempt of singing although I was tempted with the 'stand by your ham' but I held back! What a few days I have had, China just keeps surprising me! I visited the Meat Industry expo where I saw just how big some of the companies overly here are and that if you want to survive in China they think you need your hands in every part of the supply chain, they may just be right in this thinking! The processors all have farms, mills, their own brands which they sell into retailers and restaurants, I get the impression that the retail market is not that big out here, people seem to eat out a lot, I think in cities it's because their houses are so small that they don't have room to eat socially at home. For the first time since I have been here I also saw some English people! They were on the British stand, BPEX were present, they were all over to try and promote the export market which is very important for our market I feel, hopefully through time us farmers may see a little of the money that the processors are getting for our fifth quarter however I'm not overly optimistic! We were actually invited out for a meal with the English guys which was nice to be able to speak to more people and so off Yolanda and I went, we didn't quite realise it was with a very influential person called Mr Lee who is the chairman of the Chinese food association so, very high up in the agricultural industry! It was a lovely Resturant and the meal very nice however, half way through someone found a spider in a pancake which was fine but Mr Lee was not happy and the power he has was fully shown! He spend about an hour telling them off and saying he was getting the government down to shut the Resturant down as he was embarrassed at what had happened! Stuart tried to calm the situation down and eventually managed to just get them to change our room! And so we up shipped and and went into another room and started the whole meal again and believe me they eat a lot so it was not a great thing! I think Mr Lee nearly forgot about the whole ordeal after many toasts with Maitei a Chinese spirt! The next day we flew to Hunan Provence, the top 2 areas for pig production, here we were to meet Mr and Mrs Xia, Mr Xia is on the board of the Da Kang group, a very large business in China which has all the sectors of the supply chain. He would like to think they are best at the farming part of the supply chain and with 22 farms producing over a million slaughter pigs a year I have to think they must know something, plus they are expanding all the time, so confidence in the pig industry is high! I wish i could say that about the British Industry! The company employes over 100 staff of which 700 of them are working on the farms, in with the pigs or in the offices! The farm that we had a very quick look at, we were not allowed on farm but they do have CCTV in all the pens so we got a bit of an idea! This farm had all JSR pigs on and so they were running them in loose housing, and in there eyes welfare is very important to them. Again they were heavily staffed, 21 people in total of them 10 of them on the actual pigs, they had only 300 sows on here, all the pigs were on solid floor and so people mucked them out as they messed! And they worked shifts so that they pigs had 24/7 care! It really is something different, all living on site! Trying to get production figures is something which is proving very difficult, I can't decide if its because they don't have a recording system of because they just don't want to tell me, I am thinking the latter is possibly true! They like the phase 'it's quite good'! I have to go bit I shall write more when I have time about this business as I have seen a few of the farms and also the slaughter house however I have yet to actually see a pig that's not either dead or on a screen! It's very annoying!!! Bye for now