Having started the year with high hopes for the reformation of the Nuffield Pig Group, with several visits and activities in the pipeline, my plans certainly hadn’t accounted for a global pandemic putting a stop to gatherings and travel.
While I don’t want to state the obvious, in the pig world, COVID isn’t the only disease we are worried about interrupting our businesses and scuppering potential visit plans. With ASF having now made its way into Germany from Poland, the risk to our own national herd is ever growing, and in these already uncertain times ASF is just another thing to add to the growing number of industry concerns. However, the encouraging thing is that, in the past few months, I have started to see businesses picking up projects that were spoken about at the start of the year and then understandably postponed. It appears that having now adapted to the COVID restrictions, social distancing, working from home etc, they are starting to look towards the future again, even if how the future looks is still very uncertain.
With the aim of looking forward I have been putting out feelers for potential pig group visits for 2021. I have spoken to several businesses and both Dingley Dell (Suffolk) and Morrisons/Woodheads (Colne and/or Spalding) are lined up for next year with the potential of a study trip to Europe (country TBC) obviously all based on COVID/ASF status. In the meantime, I have the opportunity to organising a pig group webinar with a virtual reality/real time farm tour of one of the TopigsNorsvin Delta research facilities. This will run before the end of the year and more information will be circulated in the Nuffield emails once everything is finalised, so please look out for the updates. I would encourage you to invite any potential future Nuffield applicants to the Pig Group “Meetings” as I am sure, like I was, you were saddened to see no pig based scholarships this year and would hope as an industry we can put forward several candidates next year. I also hope that 2021 will be a year when we can all meet in person, exchange ideas and learn from each other, once again. In the interim, I shall look forward to our hopefully meeting via the internet in the coming months.
Caroline Mitchell, Chair