NSA Weekly Update 14th Mar 14

By Suffolk Sheep Society 14th March, 2014

National Sheep Association update

CAP WORKSHOP ALLOWS SCOTTISH FARMERS TO INFLUENCE CONSULTATION PROCESS: A CAP workshop held by NSA Scottish Region at the Royal Highland Showground on Monday (10th March) was a final opportunity for sheep farmers to have their say before the Scottish Government closes its consultation period on Pillar One payments. NSA Scottish Region invited Douglas Bell of SRUC and Jeremy Moody of CAAV to outline where things are with CAP and in particular to focus on the impact that would be seen from different combinations of land category splits between arable, permanent grass and rough grazing. Coupled payments were also a major feature of discussions. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, joined the NSA Scottish Region team for the event. He reports: Coupled payments for many sheep farmers in the UK may seem like a blast from the past but that is exactly what looks to be on the table in Scotland, with the possibility of 5% of coupled funds for sheep farmers being added to the already agreed 8% coupled funds for the beef sector. Coupled payments are a very contentious subject for sheep farmers with most having an aversion to a return to the very blunt tool that ewe premium brought last time around, but the majority of the meeting on Monday was spent debating the most effective way of using what is clearly becoming both a possibility and an opportunity.
“Douglas and Jeremy did a great job of setting the scene and discussing the impact of a range of splits between different land categories. As always there are winners and losers and the big question that arises now is that of the need for more than one category of rough grazing land and accepting that there are differing levels of productivity. It was felt that coupling payments to sheep numbers in rough grazing situations could be the best way to make this differentiation with a recommendation that if rough grazing area payments were kept relatively low and sheep in rough grazing areas were paid a modest ‘headage payment’ this would be a good way to differentiate. Jeremy made reference to the regulation stating that any coupling needs to be regionally specific and to be used as a mechanism to maintain or avoid reductions in livestock. It was most important that sheep farmers got the chance to discuss and debate what is clearly a big opportunity, but something that if we are not careful could become divisive.”
CAP PROGRESS ALSO MADE IN ENGLAND: Defra has released additional information on implementation of CAP in England, including detail on the young farmers’ scheme (i.e. new entrants) and the new environmental land management scheme (NELMS) that will replace current environmental stewardship. As anticipated, instead of ELS and HLS with separate options for organic and upland farms, all farm types will have to apply for a single NELMS agreement that suits their situation, picking options from a menu of multi-annual and capital items (although some options will be available to e.g. organic farms). There is no doubt that NELMS will be more difficult to qualify for than ELS, as Defra has openly declared it will not pay for ‘deadweight’ or things that would be happening anyway. The latest information on young farmers and NELMS can be found here, or alternatively visit Defra’s new CAP reform website – www.gov.uk/cap-reform – which will be continually updated over the coming months with information and the new online application and payment service.
RELIGIOUS SLAUGHTER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Many NSA members no doubt took a sharp intake of breath when Sunday’s Countryfile covered religious slaughter, feeling that our industry is coming under the spotlight again. However, Rizvan Khalid of Euro Quality Lambs came across exceptionally well and was given chance to explain the background to the needs and interests of the Muslim community as well as give an alternative view to the British Veterinary Association (BVA), who are campaigning hard for an end to all non-stun slaughter. Phil Stocker commended Rizvan for his comments, saying: “I agree completely with Rizvan when he says we should not be afraid to bring this subject out into the open and must strive for honesty and transparency as well as best practice throughout. While the subject is highly contentious it is also very clear that the level of understanding and accuracy is low with many people jumping to conclusions and inaccurate statistics being bandied around. Many would argue that all animals should be pre-stunned but this ignores the religious beliefs of some within our community, most of whom would display extremely high levels of faith and compassion relating to their food than is experienced in the Western world. As for Countryfile, we should welcome any coverage of our industry as long as it is well balanced and with unbiased intentions.”
INFORMATION FOR NSA MEMBERS ON THE ENGLISH SHEEP MOVEMENT DATABASE: The presentation delivered by SouthWestern (the company delivering the sheep database on behalf of Defra) at the recent NSA sheep movement roadshow meetings it now available in the members-only area of the NSA website. There is also a Q&A written by NSA (a longer version of the article in the current edition of Sheep Farmer magazine) and we hope to add the tagging and movements cross-compliance presentation from the Farm Advice Service when they give their permission. Defra will be sending out its official guidance booklet later this month; this will be posted to all registered sheep keepers and we will also add it to the NSA website when we can, along with the SouthWestern step-by-step users guide when that is published. Once you are in the members-only area of the website, head to the blue tab called ‘Technical Information’. If you don’t know your membership log-in, please email membership@nationalsheep.org.uk.
To summarise some of the basic information to come out of the six NSA Roadshow meetings and two meetings with SouthWestern and Defra this week:-
  • Whether you are going to report electronically or continue to use paper, SouthWestern encourages you to contact your local AHVLA office to confirm they have the correct name, address, CPH and post code for you, and that your holding is definitely registered for sheep.
  • The SouthWestern helpline will be available from 1st April, answering farmer queries about the new ARAMS1 paper form (the replacement for AML1) and reporting electronically. You can call 08445 730137 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday and will be charged the same as a local rate number.
  • The new ARAMS1 paper forms will be available from markets and abattoirs at all times, and local authorities for the first few months. If you mistakenly use an old AML1 form instead it will still be processed by SouthWestern. Also, if you mistakenly send a form to your Local Authority instead of SouthWestern’s office at Milton Keynes, it will be sent on and duly processed.
  • If you are planning to report electronically and wish to use your current farm management package to do this, please check with your software provider to see if they have linked in with SouthWestern. The company says more than a dozen computer software companies have approached them but only five or six are actually testing the system.
You will find much more information online and NSA will try to answer any questions you email to enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk. Also, while the new system does not increase your requirement to own electronic tag reading equipment, if you are considering going down that route you may wish to consider an application to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme for funding. This information also can be found in the members-only area of the website or online here. The last date for applications is 4th April.
WELSH GOVERNMENT TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARDS ITS SHEEP DATABASE: In a bid to meet its deadline of 1st January 2015 for an electronic movement database in Wales, the Welsh Government has opened its consultation process. Mirroring the consultation in England, it discusses options such as making it mandatory for markets and abattoirs to use the database but not farmers, and removing the non-electronic slaughter tag option. Farmers can respond to the consultation themselves here but NSA Cymru/Wales will gladly receive your views to feed into the NSA response. We would particularly welcome comments on whether keeping the non-electronic slaughter tag would create confusion (as Wales would be the only part of the UK permitted to use the tag) or provide a vital financial saving for farmers moving lambs directly to slaughter. Email Helen Davies, NSA Cymru/Wales Regional Development Officer, on helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
PLEASE COMPLETE OUR DOG WORRYING SURVEY BEFORE 31ST MARCH: There have already been more than 300 responses to the NSA sheep worrying by dogs survey, and the more we get the more powerful the results will be to help raise the issue this series issue with the non-farming community. There are only a few questions, so please take the time to share information about experiences on your own farm at www.surveymonkey.com/s/sheepworrying. The survey is open to all sheep farmers, not just NSA members, so please help us promote the link on Facebook and Twitter, or simply forward the link to friends if social media isn’t your thing! The survey closes at the end of the month.
C.OVIS RESEARCH ASKING VIEWS OF FARMERS IN SW ENGLAND If you’ve not already had your fill of online surveys, we strongly encourage sheep farmers in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall to help Tracey Peat with her research into cysticercus ovis, its effect on sheep and the role of dogs in the parasite’s life cycle. Tracy is a sheep farmer and animal health advisor and has won a Moredun scholarship to carry out the research (more below on Moredun scholarships). Her simple online survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/southwestc-ovis.
TWO REMINDERS FROM NSA NI: Edward Adamson, NSA Northern Ireland Region Development Officer, says there are a few places left on the study tour to Wales on 19th-21st May. Please call Edward urgently on 07711 071290 if you wish to book a place. And a date for the diary – the NSA NI / Norbrook Closamectin Sheepdog Sale will be held on Monday 26th May in Ballymena Market.
FEW GENETIC SIMILARITIES IN REGIONAL SHEEP BREEDS: A study carried out by the Sheep Trust comparing the genetics of sheep breeds in the same geographical region of the UK has found that the Herdwick breed contains features of a ‘primitive genome’ found previously in very few breeds worldwide and none in the UK mainland. The data suggests Herdwicks may originate from a common ancestral founder flock to breeds living in Sweden, Finland and Iceland. But the Herdwick, along with the Rough Fell, also contains rare genetic evidence of a historical link to the original pin-tail ancestral population of sheep on Texel Island, possibly confirming Cumbrian folklore connecting the arrival of sheep breeds to Viking settlers. While the study found such distinct differences between breeds, it also discovered a link between the Herdwick, Rough Fell and Dalesbred breeds – they show a lower than average risk of infection to maedi visna (MV). Professsor Dianna Bowles, Sheep Trust Chairman and the lead on this project, says: “This is an important start to show policy makers just how important the genetics of these breeds may be. Currently the sheep are farmed in large numbers and it is essential we take steps to ensure a commercial future for them, since they have the traits and adaptations to harsh conditions that agriculture might well need in years to come. If the breeds are lost we lose forever the opportunities offered by this crucial biodiversity.”
SCOTTISH ABATTOIR RESEARCH OPENS DOOR TO NEW COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES: Research funded by the Scottish Government and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has concluded that meat quality measurement techniques and high-tech robotic equipment can be used successfully in commercial abattoirs without slowing down processing line speeds. The three-year Integrated Measurement of Eating Quality (IMEQ) project investigated the potential of cutting-edge technology in Scotbeef’s Bridge of Allan unit, including the use of robotics similar to those used by the high precision motor industry (pictured), never before tested in a working abattoir. It found it was possible to assess carcase and meat eating quality under abattoir conditions, allowing farmers to be paid on superior eating quality meat yield rather than the traditional EUROP grid. The project found a robot could cope with the variations in size and shape of carcases and go to the same reference target in three dimensional space to position the sampling probe. It also successfully integrated an ultrasonic fat depth prediction system using improved video image analysis (VIA) technology and ultrasound software, which could be combined VIA prediction of saleable meat yield of carcasses to provide feedback to processors and farmers less than an hour after an animal has been slaughtered. Semi-autonomous collection of pH information was also trialled, along with advanced spectroscopic techniques to estimate tenderness, juiciness and flavour of meat plus nutritional properties. Several of the technologies evaluated by the project are already being progressed to commercial realities. Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, says: “In order for our processors to be able to invest in this sort of industry-leading technology, which our competitors around the globe also have an eye on, it is vital that the industry in Scotland has the critical mass of raw product it needs to operate profitably. It is essential that our beef and sheep producers take every opportunity available to them to improve the efficiency and profitability of their businesses and QMS has a range of initiatives underway to assist them to do so. One priority is to develop a better flow of communication between abattoirs and farmers.”
NEW FACTSHEETS AND PODCASTS AVAILABLE IN WALES: Factsheets on ‘reducing infection in newborn lambs’ and ‘artificial rearing of lambs’ are now available from Farming Connect at www.menterabusnes.co.uk/farmingconnect. There is also a wide range of topical podcasts available at www.menterabusnes.co.uk/farmingconnect/fctv.
ALSO IN WALES, the Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) has been extended for
12 months with almost £1.8 million available to new entrants. Three areas are available for applications: a one off grant payment for capital expenses incurred in setting-up as head of holding; access to a dedicated young entrants’ business enabler service for advice on training, knowledge transfer and joint venture opportunities; and access to funded mentoring services from established farmers. Expressions of interest are being accepted now, with applications open from 1st September 2014. Contact Paul McCullough on 03000 622175 or youngentrantstofarming@wales.gsi.gov.uk.
GRASSLAND ADVICE FOR FIELDS AFFECTED BY WET CONDITIONS: On-off grazing or delayed fertilizer applications are two potential solutions for livestock farmers struggling with too much grass but wet conditions under-foot, says Nigel Hester of Yara, sponsor of the Grassland and Muck Event this spring (21st and 22nd May at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire). On-off grazing maximizes intakes in a limited number of hours per day, but is difficult at and around lambing, but delaying fertiliser spreading may deny grass much needed soil nutrients, he says. Either way, he recommends testing soil nutrient indices before planning fertiliser applications and to include sulphur to improve nitrogen utilisation by the grass. “And be patient – wait for the right soil conditions before travelling or you will end up creating compaction problems,” he says. Meantime, James Ingles is concerned about compaction already caused by flooding and water-logging. He says some fields may need ‘urgent attention’ to prevent fertiliser applications being a waste of time. “Applying fertiliser to compacted and waterlogged soils is likely to be a waste of time and money, as the plant will not be able to fully utilise it. The risk of fertiliser run-off will increase by as much as 50 to 60%. Soils that are waterlogged stay colder for longer, further reducing growth and making the production problem worse. To get the soils and swards back into full production, dig a test hole approximately 50cm square and at least 40 cm deep. This will allow you to see how deep the problem is, often waterlogging is caused by a shallow pan caused by either grazing animals or tractor activity. This can be corrected by either slitting the sward or the use of a sward lifter.” For fields that have been flooded for longer periods of time, Mr Ingles say to check that ‘greening up’ when the sward has dried out is productive grasses rather than weed grasses like meadow grass. If weed grasses dominate, re-seeding or over-seeding may need to be considered. MEANWHILE ON FORAGE CROPS, Limagrain has produced a new booklet on forage trials, including data on higher yielding varieties of fodder beet, swede, kale, stubble turnips and forage rape. Email enquiries@limagrain.co.uk for a free copy.
DOG MICRO-CHIPPING DEFINITELY GOING AHEAD IN WALES: The Welsh Government has confirmed it will definitely be law to micro-chip all dogs resident in Wales from 1st March 2015. Puppies will need be chipped by the time they are 56 days old.
£1,000 SCHOLARSHIPS ON OFFER FROM MOREDUN: Three scholarships of up to £1,000 each will be granted by the Moredun Foundation again this year, to provide an opportunity for individuals in the UK to pursue a short-term project to broaden their education and experience in areas relating to livestock health and welfare and the agricultural industry. Projects may involve travel, work experience, science or the arts and are open to individuals over the age of 18 to apply. Applicants must be members of the Moredun Foundation (which all NSA members automatically are) and must submit their form by 30th June 2014. Find out more at www.moredun.org.uk/scholarship.
RED TRACTOR ASSURANCE GIVES AWAY ATV: A trip to NSA North Sheep last summer proved to be well worthwhile for Mr and Mrs Iveson of North Yorkshire, resulting in a brand new Suzuki quad bike for the farm. Red Tractor Assurance was offering the bike as an incentive for filling out a questionnaire at a number of shows and events in 2013, and of the near 1,500 entries it was an entry from the NSA event that came out of the hat first. Mrs Iveson, pictured right with her family collecting the bike a couple of weeks ago from the local Suzuki dealership in Appleby, Cumbria, says: “We were delighted and very surprised to find out we had won the competition. It turned out to be a very successful show for me, as I also picked up a cash prize from Eblex in their lamb selection competition!” Mr and Mrs Iveson, who farm beef and sheep on an upland unit, have been farm assured for a number of years.
MORE FARMS WANTED FOR OPEN FARM SUNDAY: Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) wants more farmers than ever to participate in this year’s Open Farm Sunday on 8th June. They say events can be any size or format to suit your farm, from a small guided walk through to a full open day, and there is lots of free information and support for host farmers at www.farmsunday.org. LEAF spokesperson Melanie McCarthy says: “Open Farm Sunday is all about celebrating British farming and food. It is a fantastic opportunity for farmers to connect with the public, tell their story and showcase all that is best about British farming and food. Take part in the farming industry’s national open day.”
GAP YEAR ON-FARM PLACEMENT SOUGHT: Chloe Dunne (17) is looking for an on-farm work experience placement for her gap year between college and university from this July. She plans to go to university in autumn 2015 to pursue veterinary/agricultural studies. Chloe has been working on a small dairy, beef and sheep farm at weekends and says she very enthusiastic, willing and eager to learn, making up for her limited experience on larger farms. She will consider full and part-time positions within the Leicestershire/Warwickshire area, or further afield if accommodation is provided, and has her own transport and a full driving license. Contact Chloe on ch10dunne@gmail.com or 07534 361821.


NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (diary of events below): 

  • MONDAY 26TH MAY: NSA NI SHEEPDOG SALE: Held in conjunction with Norbrook Closamectin in Ballymena Market.
  • 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 euan@appliedremedies.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 9TH JUNE: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING: 7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.
  • WEDNESDAY 11TH JUNE: NSA EASTERN REGION FARM WALK: At Ickworth Park, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, by invitation of Paul Seabrook. To include the Eastern Region’s second Young Shepherds Competition of the year, subject to demand.
  • 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 bob@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • 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 helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER EARLY RAM SALE: MONDAY 4TH AUGUST: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA SOUTH WEST REGION RAM SALE: WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST: Exeter Livestock Centre. Contact Sue Martyn on 01409 271385, 07967 512660 or suem@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST: Rugby Farmers Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or carroll@ceressolutions.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING: 7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.
  • RAM SALE: NSA EASTERN REGION RAM SALE: FRIDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER: Melton Mowbray Market. Contact Jonathan Barber on 01953 607860 or carroll@ceressolutions.co.uk.
  • RAM SALE: NSA WALES & BORDER MAIN RAM SALE: MONDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER: Royal Welsh Showground. Contact Jane Smith on 01291 673939 or jane@nsaramsales.co.uk.
  • MONDAY 8TH DECEMBER: NSA MARCHES REGION COMMITTEE MEETING: 7pm at the Lower House Farm, Cannon Frome, Ledbury, HR8 2TG. All NSA Marches Region members are welcome, not just committee members.
This e-mail is from the National Sheep Association (“the NSA”). The information contained in this e-mail and in any attachments is intended for the named recipient and may be privileged or confidential. If you receive this e-mail in error please notify the NSA immediately on 01684 892661. Delete it immediately from your computer. Do not copy it, distribute it or take any action based on the information contained in it.  Neither the NSA nor the sender accepts any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained in this e-mail and gives no warranty or representation as to its accuracy or reliability. Nor does the NSA accept any liability for viruses which may be transmitted by it. It is your responsibility to scan the e-mail and its attachments (if any) for viruses. The NSA may monitor and read both incoming and outgoing e-mail communications to protect its legitimate interests.
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