‘Keep simple and focused to succeed’ – David Black winner

Keeping things “simple and focused” will help keep the British pig industry fit for the future – at least that’s according to 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 retired as AHDB strategy director earlier this year after 40 years at the levy body.

He received his award at an industry breakfast earlier this week, 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.

‘Keep it simple’

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.

“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 Foot and Mouth disease 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.”