Zoe Davies_

Source: NPA 

Davies was a vocal advocate for producers throughout the crisis that enveloped the sector from 2020 to 2022.

Former National Pig Association CEO Zoe Leach has been awarded an OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours in recognition of her services to the pig industry.

Leach, better known to many in the pig sector by her maiden name of Davies, was a vocal advocate for producers throughout the crisis that enveloped the sector from 2020 to 2022.

Amid a mounting backlog of animals on farms due to shortages of butchers and a European oversupply of pigmeat, Leach became a regular media commentator on the issues facing the sector, holding the government, retailers and processors to account for their role in the crisis.

She left the NPA last July after 14 years at the industry body to take up a new post as the NFU’s East Anglia regional director.

She described the OBE as a “massive honour” that reflected on “the fantastic work of the NPA over all my years there and well before that”.

“Although this OBE is being awarded to me, I couldn’t have achieved anything without the amazing team at the NPA, which continues to do great work for members, along with all the producer and allied representatives, and especially the chairmen who served alongside me,” Leach said.

“The pig industry is unique – it’s full of wonderful people who have faced and come through some tough challenges over the years. I have just tried to do my best to support them.”

NPA CEO Lizzie Wilson, who succeeded Leach last summer, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled with this news and want to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Zoe.

“Not only has she won countless battles on behalf of the entire industry at government and supply chain level, but she has formed a unique bond with members, often going above and beyond in supporting them on an individual level.

“She has given blood, sweat and tears for the industry over the years and this is a thoroughly deserved honour.”

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer said: “I want to add my personal congratulations to Zoe. She really has battled so hard for the pig sector, never more so than during the recent crisis, when she showed tremendous leadership.

“As a producer, I can safely say the industry is in a much better position to continue producing great British pork than it would have been without Zoe. This honour is just reward for that.”

Prior to joining NPA, Leach worked for Defra as a senior scientific officer for five years, having come from BQP where she ran a pig farm in Suffolk for three years. From 1995 to 1998 she completed a PhD in pig welfare at the University of Reading, studying the welfare implications of outdoor pig breeding systems.