NSA Members' Weekly Email Update
14th February 2014
FOUR NSA MEETINGS THIS WEEK! It’s a busy week this week with four NSA meeting planned:-
Tuesday evening: NSA Cymru/Wales AGM and liver fluke workshop, 2pm at Hafod-y-Hendre, Royal Welsh Showground. Click here for an agenda and more information.
Wednesday afternoon: NSA Electronic Database Meeting, 1pm at Cirencester Market. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday evening: NSA South West AGM and Electronic Database Meeting, 7.30pm at Exeter Livestock Centre. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by register with Sue Martyn on 01409 271385 or email@example.com.
Thursday evening: NSA Northern Region AGM and guest speakers, 7.30pm at Hexham Auction Mart. Click here an agenda and more information.
There are four more NSA Electronic Database Meetings the week after in Ashford, Bakewell, Kendall and Hexham - check out the diary at the bottom of this email.
AMENDMENT TO EUROPEAN EID LAW TAKES ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO REALITY: The option for farmers to tag sheep with their holding number on a single plastic tag (i.e. no individual or electronic identifier) until the day they leave the holding of birth has been passed by the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee during the process of developing a new EU Animal Health Law. The law is a long way from being completed or implemented, but the adoption of this amendment (tabled by Scottish MEP Alyn Smith and supported by NSA and the Shetland Crofters) by a majority of 28 votes to 12 is an important hurdle cleared. George Milne, NSA Scotland Regional Development Officer, says: “This is clearly a step in the right direction and the scale of the majority vote shows that at last other countries are beginning to realise and experience the difficulties of EID regulations. Having tried to tell the European Commission on several occasions over the past few years that these regulations were unworkable on a practical basis, it would now seem that they have finally woken up to the situation.” Mr Smith echoes this: “It shows that there is considerable political will in the European Parliament to re-open the discussions on the sheep EID laws, and that the Commission have to deal with this and the problems that farmers are finding in implementing the rules.”
The NSA UK Policy and Technical Committee met with Pamela Thompson from Defra last Friday (7th February) to discuss the EU Animal Health Law, which will be the overarching principle that sits above all animal health regulations in Member States. She says the UK is lobbying hard to ensure the new law sets the framework but leaves the detail to Member States, and that all decisions are based on risk, evidence and science. NSA listed EID regulations (tagging before animals leave the holding of birth and read rates/cross compliance penalties) and splitting of carcases under TSE rules as two priorities for sheep farmers, and while it is clear the new law will not repeal the existing EID and TSE regulations it will provide an opportunity to revisit them and bring them into line with the EU Animal Health Law principle of all rules being proportionate to risk. Not surprisingly, the new law has potential pitfalls too, such as passing inspection costs back to farmers and UK forfeiting power to Europe, and so the forthcoming negotiations between the European Parliament, European Council of Ministers and European Commission are crucial. The law is not expected to be passed until 2015 at the earliest, after which there will be a three-year transition before full implementation. NSA will keep members up-to-date on progress.
CAP REFORM, THE MOORLAND LINE AND OPEN ACCESS DISCUSSED BY WELSH COMMONS FORUM: Monday (10th February) saw the Welsh Commons Forum meet at the Royal Welsh Showground to receive reports on recent meetings with William Powell and Antoinette Sandbach (respectively Lib.Dem and Conservative spokesmen for Rural Affairs) where issues of CAP reform and the moorland line, along with the open access and recreation discussion paper, were discussed. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker reports: “The open access discussion process has been delayed and the latest expectation is that there may be a Welsh Government green paper in April. Discussion on this subject on Monday focused on liability relating to access, and where the responsibility for insurance cover lies (or should lie). Land management restrictions post Glastir agreements came up again and, while assurances have been given that the requirements only last as long as the agreements, with a simple Environmental Impact Assessment required before substantially changing management, communication received by farmers makes the whole process look far more complicated and uncertain. Finally a thorough discussion was held on the need to communicate all the very good things (public goods) that come from sheep farming in upland areas. We have a good story to tell and we need to be telling it more!”
ELECTRONIC COMMON LAND REGISTER FOR WALES IN 2017: In other news affected common land this week, Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies, has announced that the current paper based registration system for common land in Wales (established in the 1960s) will be replaced with electronic registers by 2017. He says this will deliver ‘significant benefits’ for common land management by creating consistency and 24-hour-a-day access, making it easier for local authorities to process registrations to change the register, easing Glastir administration, and improving response to a disease outbreak that affects animals on common land. Development of the common land electronic register will not start until April 2015, when the Welsh electronic sheep movement database will be up and running, and will take two years and £5m to complete. The electronic system will replace the current large paper legers and maps held by local authorities, making the records easily accessible online and more straight forward to update. Common land in Wales accounts for 8.5% of the total land area (175,000 hectares); 40% of it is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and 50% within the protected landscape of Wales.
WEIGHING STOCK AND CALIBRATING GUNS KEY CONCERNS AT SCOPS: The six-monthly SCOPS Steering Group meeting on Thursday (13th February) covered a wide range of topics linked to sustainable control of sheep parasites and made some important decisions about priorities for SCOPS this year and beyond. It was agreed that the basic messages about administering wormers and flukicides correctly could not be reiterated enough, particularly as the majority of reports of a product not working are link to incorrect administration rather than a drug resistance. NSA members are reminded that they always need to calibrate drench guns before use, including when the gun is brand new. Use a calibration pot or remove the plunger from a 10ml syringe, put your thumb over the end and squirt the dose into it, making sure you have got rid of any air bubbles first. Adjust the gun until the dose delivered is correct. Drenching guns should also be well maintained and replaced regularly. Clean with warm soapy water after use and check springs and tubes to make sure there are no kinks that will form air bubbles. Click here for more information.
RABI OFFERING EMERGENCY GRANTS TO FLOOD-HIT FARMERS: The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) says it wants to give emergency grants to flood-hit farmers and will accept applications as soon as farmers have the recovering from the immediate crisis of keeping themselves and livestock safe. RABI has fast-tracked the application process in readiness and is accepting enquiries via 03003 037373 and email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Prince of Wales has given £25,000 to RABI specifically for flood-hit farmers in Somerset and the charity is welcoming other (smaller!) donations from farmers wishing to support other in their time of need. RABI has set up a special fund with the Royal Bath and West of England Society to receive donations from businesses and individuals, which it will distribute with the help of a number of agencies to farming businesses to help their recovery. Click here to donate or find out more at www.rabi.org.uk; and find out more below about a (coincidental) NSA-backed fundraising campaign for RABI and its Scottish sister charity. In addition, as a result of many people offering donations of forage rather than cash, Sedgemoor Livestock Market is coordinating collection and distribution of deliveries. Contact Rebecca Horsington to arrange a delivery time on 01278 410278 or email@example.com.
SPONSOR OUR ‘BOOZE FREE FEB’ CHAMPIONS IN AID OF RABI: Four NSA office holders are taking part in a month-long ‘dryathlon’ in aid of RABI and RSABI this February. The booze ban has been organised by the Farmers Guardian to mark its 170th anniversary, which falls this month, and Farmers Guardian staff and other industry representatives are also taking up the challenge. NSA faces giving up their pints include NSA Chairman John Geldard (pictured top left), NSA South East Regional Chairman Andrew Barr (top right), NSA South East Regional Manager Bob Blanden (bottom left) and NSA Central Region Committee Member and Newton Rigg Head of Agriculture Matt Bagley (bottom right). You can support those taking part by donating online here or by texting “FGBF70” followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070.
NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE (more content below):-
DATE OF NSA BREED SOCIETY FORUM ANNOUNCED: The date of the next NSA Breed Society Forum has been announced as Thursday 8th May at Hafod-y-Hendre, Royal Welsh Showground. NSA-Affiliated Breed Societies will be able to send two representatives each and will be sent the full itinerary in the near future.
TIGHT LAMB SUPPLIES AHEAD, BUT ON-FARM IMPROVEMENTS ALSO NEEDED TO DRIVE PROFITABILITY: There was a great deal of positivity from Paul Heyhoe, AHDB/Eblex Sheep and Beef Senior Analyst, at Wednesday’s Eblex Outlook Conference in London (12th February). He highlighted 2013’s strong export values and furthermore predicted that a lack of growth in the UK breeding flock in 2013, coupled with the average lambing rates expected in 2014, would lead to tight domestic sheep meat supplies for at least the first few months of this year. He said: “The Defra UK June 2013 census showed a 1% rise in lamb numbers, however this was driven by unexpected results from Wales that indicated lamb numbers were up 7% on the year. Industry opinion suggests these numbers are too high, so these forecasts continue to assume a lower figure for lamb numbers. While production forecasts for the first half of 2014 are higher than previous levels, they are still substantially below year-earlier levels, as the carryover of lamb from 2012 made production in early 2013 unusually high. A lower number of adult sheep culls are also currently expected, after what has mostly been a better season.”
This tight supply, along with uncertainty surrounding the economic climate in Europe, may prevent the UK from fulfilling high export potential in the near future, Mr Heyhow said, but sheep meat stocks are set to be tight globally, including in New Zealand, resulting in relatively low UK imports for at least this year. Although supplies may be pinched, there are global opportunities for the UK industry, Mr Heyhoe said. Whereas most EU flocks are dwindling, the UK flock is not. A continued fall in EU production is predicted, as China ups its imports. While New Zealand focuses on this new market, demand from Europe and the US continues – this, Mr Heyhoe points out, is a big opportunity for the UK. But the challenge for UK sheep farming is profitability, he warned, advocating increased output and streamlined costs as the key to on-farm success. Mr Heyhoe concluded that this is a pivotal point for the UK sheep industry, with a need to restore confidence within the sector and this year’s weather and prices proving crucial. Mr Heyhoe said: “We have got a product the world wants but we need to make it profitable and sustainable”.
PLEA TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR STOLEN PEDIGREE SHEEP: Lancashire farmer Dan Towers has asked NSA members to keep an eye out for 58 pedigree Beltex and cross-bred recipient ewes stolen on Friday night between 6.30pm and 7.30am from isolated lambing sheds at Scale House Farm, Wray. All the animals can be identified by red marks on the backs of their heads and scan marks on their huggin bone. Some of the recipients with implanted embryos have marks on their backs and notches out of the end of both ears and at the top of the right ear. Those ewes which were imported from Belgium have tags beginning with ‘BE’ and some of the pure ewes had a K on their back. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said “As with any potentially stolen sheep, members should keep an eye out for anything suspicious and contact the police if they have any suspicion. NSA continues to hear reports of sheep rustling and we urge farmers to stay vigilant, and ask others to do the same, in order to protect their flocks.”
LIVELY DISCUSSION WITH THE HAMPSHIRE SHEEP GROUP: Over 40 Hampshire Sheep Group members turned their backs on the effects of the weather (with some even travelling from the Isle of Wight) and attended a presentation and discussion with NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker at Stockbridge on Thursday evening (13th February). After an overview of the NSA’s work, the discussion was broad and included key market and sheep industry trends, policy issues such as CAP reform, the movements database and sheep identification, and then a discussion on the importance of moving the sheep industry more rapidly forward in terms of health and disease and productivity status, in order to protect our industry and maintain the diversity and culture that we have. Phil reports: “The discussion was lively, with most of the frustration being around a lack of clarity of movement recording rules with inconsistency of guidance coming from several quarters, RPA included. It was even suggested that the RPA hadn’t heard of the NSA – something we will address immediately!”
NEW ADAPTATION OF RED TRACTOR LOGO FOR CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: Assured Food Standards have created a new ‘Made with Red Tractor’ logo to appear on ready meals and pies. The familiar Red Tractor logo can only be used on primary products, such a pack of lamb chops or a roasting joint, so the new logo allows the farm assurance logo to be used on products where the meat is only one element of the product. There are strict rules governing its use, such as 100% of the meat having to be British farm assured not just some of it, and guidance that processors should try and source Red Tractor Assured products for the rest of the meal too – i.e. potatoes for a shepherd’s pie not just lamb.
FREE UPLAND TRAINING EVENTS IN NORTHUMBERLAND: NSA members have been invited by Strutt and Parker to attend a series of free events they are funding with financial support from the Rural Development Programme for England. The events are targeted at farmers with a least half their land in SDA and start at 6.30pm with refreshments provided. There is no fee to attend but you must book a place by calling 01670 500871 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newcastle House, Rothbury: Monday 17th February for CAP post-2015; Monday 24th February for tenancy issues; Monday 3rd March for business monitoring; and Monday 10th March for resources and energy.
Riverdale Hotel, Bellingham: Thursday 20th February for CAP post-2015; Wednesday 26th February for tenancy issues; Thursday 6th March for business monitoring; and Thursday 13th March for resources and energy.
YOUR VIEWS SOUGH ON MINERAL SUPPLEMENTATION OF EWES: We have received a request from Hayley Jackson, a student in her final year at the Royal Agricultural University, for sheep farmers in England and Wales to complete a questionnaire about mineral supplements and administration methods. Completing the questionnaire will help Hayley complete her research into the effects of mineral deficiencies and how timing/administration improve ewe production and welfare. Click here for the survey, which is anonymous and should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. If you have questions about the questionnaire please email Hayley on email@example.com.
ON-FARM APPRENTICESHIP WANTED: Agriculture student Rebecca Bradley (19) is looking for a level 2 apprenticeship in Northern England, which involves 40 hours per week working on farm plus one day at college for a 12-month period. Rebecca has already completed her level 2 diploma in agriculture and the first year of her level 3 at Newton Rigg College. She lives in Seaham, County Durham, but is willing to travel for a placement. Rebecca has experience lambing, is happy to work with all livestock and is very keen to learn. She has a full UK driving licence, experience driving tractors and can carrying out basic maintenance. She can provide references and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07805 254404.
NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (diary of events below):-
NSA DIARY OF EVENTS
TUESDAY 18TH FEBRUARY: NSA CYMRU/WALES REGION AGM: 2pm at Hafod-y-Hendre, Royal Welsh Showground. The meeting will be followed by guest speakers Dr Neil Mackintosh, vet Kate Hovers and Margaret Dalton on ‘Experiences of dealing with liver fluke, including where drug resistance maybe a problem’. Click here for an agenda and minutes of the last meeting.
WEDNESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY: NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 1 OF 6: 1pm at Cirencester Auction Market, Cotswold Agricultural Centre, Driffield Road, Cirencester, GL7 5QA. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so please spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing email@example.com.
WEDNESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY: NSA SOUTH WEST REGION AGM AND NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 2 OF 6: 7.30pm at Exeter Livestock Centre. The AGM will be followed by a presentation by SouthWestern, the company providing the new electronic movement database for Defra from 1st April 2014. This is your opportunity to hear how the database will work and ask questions about how it will affect you. Don’t miss what might be one of the only opportunities to hear SouthWestern speak in South West England. The meeting is open to non-members too, so spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register with Sue Martyn on 01409 271385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY 20TH FEBRUARY: NSA NORTHERN REGION AGM: 7.30pm at the Tynedale Function Suite, Hexham Auction Mart, Hexham, Northumberland. To be followed by speakers on their trip to New Zealand, David Raine and Phil Stocker, plus a report by our two regional sponsored young farmers, Tom Carrick, High Crossgil, and James Raine, Randalholme, on their day spent at the Northern Farming Conference.
TUESDAY 4TH MARCH: NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 3 OF 6: 12 noon at Ashford Market, Monument Way, Orbital Park, Ashford, TN24 0HB. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so please spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing email@example.com.
TUESDAY 4TH MARCH: NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 4 OF 6: 7.45pm at Bakewell Market, The Agricultural Business Centre, Bakewell, DE45 1AH. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so please spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY 5TH MARCH: NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 5 OF 6: 1pm at J36 Rural Auction Centre, Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7FP. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so please spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing email@example.com.
WEDNESDAY 5TH MARCH: NSA ELECTRONIC DATABASE MEETING 6 OF 6: 7.30pm at Hexham Auction Market, Tyne Green, Hexham, NE46 3SG. Free entry and open to both NSA members and non-members so please spread the word. Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons please register by calling 01684 892661 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHEEP EVENT: NSA SCOT SHEEP: WEDNESDAY 4TH JUNE 2014: At the Berwickshire farm of Quixwood, Grantshouse, courtesy of the Macfarlane family. Details and sponsorship packages from Euan Emslie on 01430 441870 or email@example.com.
SHEEP EVENT: NSA SOUTH SHEEP: SATURDAY 28TH JUNE: Blackcap Farm, Firle, Lewes, East Sussex, by kind permission of Tony Monnington and family. Details and sponsorship packages from Bob Blanden on 01666 860308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHEEP EVENT: NSA SHEEP EVENT: WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY 2014: The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire. Details and sponsorship packages from Helen Davies on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or email@example.com.
RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER EARLY RAM SALE: MONDAY 4TH AUGUST: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAM SALE: NSA SOUTH WEST REGION RAM SALE: WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST: Exeter Livestock Centre. Contact Sue Martyn on 01409 271385, 07967 512660 or email@example.com.
RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST: Rugby Farmers Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER: Melton Mowbray Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or email@example.com.
RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER MAIN RAM SALE: MONDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.