Piggy in the middle
The UK pig industry is under threat, and so is the regional branch of an organisation set up to support it. PAULINE BUTLER of Ladies in Pigs East Anglia, whose husband, Jimmy, runs Blythburgh Free Range Pork, explains how she and fellow members are trying to encourage younger volunteers.
LADIES in Pigs (LIPS) is a national organisation launched in 1991 by ladies associated with and passionate about the British Pig Industry in a time when the industry was struggling to survive the catastrophic effects of foot and mouth and plummeting pig prices.
Sub branches were formed across the UK including a branch in East Anglia. The organisation is sponsored by BPEX (British Pig Executive) and its main aim is to raise the profile of Red Tractor pork and bacon in any way they can.
Their work covers a wide variety of activities which include cooking demonstrations, local radio and other media interviews, bacon butty and sausage sandwich drops, sampling services at supermarkets and butchers and judging pork products at evaluation events, all involving and promoting Red Tractor pork products.
Here in East Anglia we are particularly passionate about our work with children’s education days which are the Spring Fling at the Royal Norfolk Showground near Norwich and the School Farm Fair at Trinity Park near Ipswich. We have a stand at both events where we have a local butcher demonstrating sausage making to the children and then we cook the sausages in our electric frying pans and hand out samples to the children.
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We also hand out pork stickers and a children’s pack aimed at educating them in buying and eating Red Tractor pork. We want to help these children to understand where their pork comes from, its high welfare status and to show how healthy and nutritious it is.
Many people think of pork as red meat and very fatty, but it’s not, it’s a white meat which only contains 4% fat.
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We see and talk to up to 10,000 children, parents, teachers and carers at these two events and have wonderful feed back from the children, our stands are surrounded by children all day. We have a very smart red, white and blue uniform and consider that we do look professional when we are working.
Since the formation of LIPS 22 years ago the British Pig Industry has had many “highs” and “lows”.
Sadly the “lows” have been more prevalent than the “highs” as the national sow herd has halved over these years mainly due to less welfare friendly imports. The industry at present needs all the help it can achieve due to over 100% rise, in the last 18 months, of world grain prices and still copious quantities of European pork being imported despite the so-called partial stall and tether ban that should have been fully compliant by January 1. This at present is not so. Therefore our ladies, more than ever, still have an important and vital role with their promotional work to support our industry.
Here in East Anglia we sent out a letter of appeal last November to the East Anglian pig industry for the younger people in our industry to become actively involved in LIPS as we need to start handing over some of our work to safe, younger hands to continue what we have been doing for the last 22 years.
We are in danger of the East Anglian Branch folding at the next AGM as we have no active members left who are willing to be Chairman and Treasurer.
Most of our active members are now pensioners and really would like to draw a lighter harrow. We invited any prospective new members to our Christmas meeting and dinner at the end of November 2012 and had an amazing response with a lot of younger ladies attending. We had three presentations at the meeting, one from our chairman Jenny Mitchell, one from a member of the National Pig Association and one from a member of BPEX to inform present members and prospective new members of all the things happening to support and help the pig industry and how LIPS’ members can help and be a part of this. We then furnished these possible new members with literature explaining what we do, minutes of the meeting including the information given in the presentations and an application form.
Our subscription is only £10 per annum and anyone can join (male or female) and can be an active member or not.
Members and prospective new members with their partners then enjoyed a delicious pork supper cooked by Kevin Burrows and his team from C&K Meats of Eye.
Anyone interested in belonging to LIPS is invited to our AGM on March 18th 2013 at 7.00pm at Oak Farm, The Heywood, Diss, Norfolk. IP22 5TB by kind invitation of Dick and Jenny Mitchell where we are hoping for some new, younger officers to be voted on to the committee.
Anyone with a passion for British Pork and Bacon and would like to be involved are very welcome to join this meeting. Please let Jenny Mitchell know that you would like to come. Partners are also welcome as the meeting will be followed by a social gathering. Jenny’s contact number is 01379642520 or email@example.com