It was January 24, 1990 in Denmark when a group of international pig farmers founded the European Pig Producers Club on the initiative of DLG during an agricultural fair in Herning.
Four presidents in 30 years
The network, founded in 1990 with 25 members from 5 countries, has developed into an independent organization with over 600 members from more than 20 countries and 11 national branches. The Dutch Pig Farmer Benny Gussinklo was elected as the first EPP president and led the club into the 2000s. After the Dane Per Bach Laursen headed the club from 2006 to 2009, Erik Thijssen took over the leadership, which I was allowed to take over in 2018.
A milestone in recent history was the foundation of the first group of countries outside Europe in 2019. In South Africa we founded a new group with motivated and future-oriented pig farmers, who through their local organization "sappo", the "South African Pork Producers Organization", get supported.
International EPP Congress from the beginning mandatory date for members
The EPP Congress is the annual highlight and meeting point of the EPP family. This event had to be canceled only once in the past 30 years due to foot and mouth disease and is organized by the national EPP branch with the support of DLG and local partners. A big challenge that requires two years of preparation and good teamwork!
In June 2020 we will take the EPP Congress in the Netherlands as an opportunity to look back on 30 years of EPP, but focus on the future: There are numerous challenges for the industry, which affect all pig farmers worldwide. An example is the common fight against African swine fever, which has forced so many professional colleagues to give up their business in recent years. Issues such as animal welfare and climate protection are also being discussed in an increasingly global manner. It's good that there is an international platform here to exchange experiences and concepts!
International networking as a recipe for success
Over the years, the EPP has developed into an increasingly international network, in which members exchange their knowledge and experience at leading exhibitions such as the Euro Tier or on study trips around the world. In my opinion, this exchange of knowledge and experience is becoming increasingly important and, over the past ten years, it has also become easier thanks to the Internet and digitalization.
Nevertheless: An important part of EPP is the personal exchange in a friendly atmosphere, in which one can talk about work-related topics and beyond. It does not matter whether the farms are large or small or old members come together with young farmers. One of the new developments in our global network is the placement of (young) members who are looking for an internship abroad in a pig-keeping company. This makes the club especially interesting for young members.
Cooperation in the industry is another pillar within the EPP. That is why we strive for a ratio of 70% farmers to 30% non-farmers among the members. This means that we can not only exchange specialist knowledge with one another, but also across all levels.
The positive development and the cooperation with DLG are a good basis for me for another successful decade of the European Pig Producers. Let's toast it today!
Gert van Beek, EPP-President, 24 January 2020