British Lop Chairman Giles Eustice on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today

5 January 2014

British Lop Chairman Giles Eustice on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today

BBC’s Sarah Swadling visited Trevaskis Farm in Hayle, Cornwall to speak to Giles Eustice, Chairman of The Brisith Lop Pig Society, and brother George Eustice, Government Minister of Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, about the rewards and difficulties faced within current day farming and maintaining a rare breed. “The Politician and the Pigs”

Sarah comments on being “surrounded by very happy foraging pigs” as Giles tells her about the background of the farm and it’s rare breed:

"We've been farming in this area for over 400 years now. This farm was used for traditional farming until 1979, when my father suffered another devastating winter vegetable season and decided to start growing strawberries, this migrated to opening up the farm gates to public sales and really it grew from there...

We now have a farm restaurant, a farm market; which includes a butchers, delicatessen and bakery, competing with the supermarkets, we benchmark our prices against them and open 8am - 8pm every day of the week. Whilst being affordable, we never compromise on quality, our beef is South Devon breed, our British Lop pork is on the counter and in the restaurant, and we grow over 100 different crops on site.

As well as still doing "pick your own" we also do work within education, 4000 children come to the farm each year, we make sure to give something back to the community which is important to us.

The Eustice family have been involved in British Lops for many years, with documents dating back to around the 1850's.

Sarah describes them as "a pink pig, with very big floppy ears that come over their faces" - their hallmark, there are no other white pigs that carry that off in the same way as the Lop.

As teenagers, George and Giles had a British Lop each that they reared from; Pinky and Perky. Most of their school holidays were spent working in the fields, cutting cabbages and weeding crops during the summer.

George went away to Essex to study horticulture before coming back and working for the family business for 9 years, having at that time around 50 acres of strawberries, producing around 10 tonnes a day.

"Seeing the challenges that farmers faced, the bureaucracy coming from Europe, the problems with the ERM and the chaos that caused huge damage to our business in the mid nineties is what made me quite political.

It's quite a paradox really that I was drawn to politics through the injustices and difficult times we had, then ended up in London, away from Cornwall and the farm. To have the opportunity to be farming minister really is a fantastic outcome"

To listen to the whole programme visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03nrnvy/On_Your_Farm_The_Politician_and_the_Pigs/