Keep simple and focused to succeed, says David Black winner

Keeping things simple and focused will help keep the British pig industry fit for the future says the winner of this year’s David Black Award.

The award is presented to someone who has made a valuable and sustained contribution to the British pig industry and this year goes to Mick Sloyan.

Mick received his award today at an industry breakfast, attended by politicians, members of the House of Lords and industry leaders. It was presented by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity.

Mick said: “It was a surprise but I’m delighted and honoured that people feel that I’m good enough to win it. It’s not really about what I’ve done, though, it’s been about working as part of a fantastic team over the years. And if I’ve learnt anything in my career, it’s been to keep things simple. If people get it, the industry will continue to succeed.”

His 40-year career started in 1977 with the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC). After becoming Sector Director of AHDB Pork (then BPEX), he helped steer the industry through some difficult times, including the sow stall ban, 1998 price crash, the loss of export markets after classical swine fever hit in 2000 and FMD in 2001.

Mick added: “Those in the sector who survived had a clear vision about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to succeed. We marketed aggressively, telling the story about high welfare and our highly professional industry. There was a real story to tell. We kept it simple, helped increase industry efficiency and helped people in the sector become more resilient.

“We also needed to find alternative markets which really kicked off our interest in exports and we decided to focus on China in 2004 where we achieved market access in 2011 – a real success story which continues to bear fruit.

“As a levy board today AHDB is very much viewed by the industry as an organisation that can make a positive contribution to its future.”

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.