TACKLING MOVEMENT DATABASE ISSUES IN ENGLAND: Yesterday Phil Stocker (NSA Chief Executive, Mike Credland (NSA English Committee Chairman) and Henry Dunn (Mayhill Lamb Producers) visited the offices of SouthWestern, the company delivering the English ARAMS movements database. The meeting was initiated by NSA to discuss face to face some of the areas where ARAMS is still causing problems. Mike reports: “NSA is committed to ensuring the database gives us the disease protection it is intended to through being able to track sheep movements efficiently. Currently we are experiencing a number of areas where information is being ‘lost’ or not accepted, and in addition we are keen to see the database be more user-friendly.” SouthWestern confirmed it is seeing movement reporting step up in line with increased sheep trade at this time of the year and are receiving in the region of 2,000 reports a day.
DISCUSSING UPLAND ISSUES IN WALES: Monday saw the coming together of the Welsh Commons Forum, with a lively discussion at the FUW offices on the Royal Welsh showground. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports: “Topics discussed included concerns over the misuse of EU funds on environmental schemes that are not delivering biodiversity improvements as well as the need for more to be done to attract young people in particular to stay farming in the Welsh uplands. While the use of EU funds on environmental projects has long been a topic of discussion it was further pointed out that many landfill tax funded schemes are also affected in the same way.”
DANGERS OF ‘RE-WILDING’ EVIDENT IN NSA NORTHERN REGION: The NSA Northern Region Committee met on Wednesday evening in Alston, Cumbria, with local farmer and NSA Northern Region Chairman Adam Watson welcoming those present. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker was invited and attended the meeting, furthering the close connections that exist between farmers on the ground and activities at NSA HQ. Phil also took the opportunity to spend some time with Adam on his farm (a different sort of Adam’s Farm!) looking (in addition to some fantastic sheep and cattle) at stocking levels, vegetation and bird life on the high fells and comparing the same with neighbouring RSPB-managed Geltsdale. Phil comments: “This was a good opportunity to look at the close relationship between traditional sheep farming and the delivery of good environmental conditions and biodiversity that come as a by-product. In contrast, the absence of grazing nearby appeared to have led to conditions that would be unsuitable for the diverse ecology that we have become used to, and indeed seemingly unsuitable for much at all. After a very welcome and traditional Cumbrian welcome (at lunchtime) it was great to see such a vibrant farm and then look at what ‘rewilding’ might result in – certainly in the short term not very attractive at all. We need to keep gathering evidence of the positive environmental outcomes of good farming practices and keep making the case that it was traditional farming that led the countryside to be the way it is, and farming that will maintain this.”
NSA AGM AND FARM WALK REPORT: If you missed the NSA Annual General Meeting and farm walk last Thursday you can find a full report here. Also follow the link to find a presentation made at the AGM about recent AGM activity.
HEALTHY TRADE AT NSA SOUTH WEST REGION RAM SALE: Although the NSA South West Region Ram Sale did not steal the headlines this week (that was left to a Texel at Lanark making 145,000gns, the second highest price ever paid for a sheep in the UK) there was a very healthy trade across the breeds on offer at Exeter on Wednesday. The Texel ring saw a strong demand for the best sheep with a top price of £1,207.50 for a shearling from Michael Lear. The Berrichons also sold well, with £840 the best price. Trade around the Suffolks was steadier, topping at £576. Shearling rams made the best Charollais and Beltex prices at £1,050 and £525 respectively. As this update goes out, buyers will be taking home their purchases from the NSA Eastern Region August ram sale, which was held at Rugby Farmers Market today. A report will be added to the NSA website next week and details reported here on Friday.
SHEEP MEAT PRODUCTION ON COURSE TO RISE IN 2014: A predicted rise in 2014 sheep meat production has been greeted as a sign of optimism in the sheep industry. Eblex has forecast a 4% rise in UK sheep meat production in 2014, with 302,000 tonnes set to be produced. The levy board expects this increase to be in line with a growth in domestic demand. A larger UK breeding flock and improved lambing rates will drive up the supply of lambs over the coming months. With more lambs available, Eblex predicts the 2014 lamb kill will be up 5% on the previous year at 13.06 million head, despite a drop in the first part of the year, although adult sheep slaughtering are expected to fall this year. NSA Chief Executive Phil stocker says: “I think there is quite a mood of optimism. I do not see sheep numbers rocketing but there is enough confidence to see a small increase. We are not going to see any dips in production”. Eblex expects further rises in the UK breeding flock and lambing rates in 2015.
CAP ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE FOR NEW YOUNG FARMER SCHEMES: All EU members states are required to make funding available for young farmers and new entrants, and more details is now available for schemes in Wales and Northern Ireland:-
NORTHERN IRELAND: Anyone wanting to apply for the new Young Farmers Scheme or to top up their entitlements from the Regional Reserve must hold at least a Level Two qualification in agriculture or a related subject containing a farm business management module. In response the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has opened applications for a course that will allow farmers to meet the criteria. The course will take place over this autumn and winter and require an average attendance of one evening per week for 20 weeks. There are no formal entry requirements and delivery will be locally across Northern Ireland subject to demand. Although the training itself will be free of charge, there may be a fee for the costs of registration and certification. Find out more here. Not sure if you already have a qualification that makes you eligible for the Young Farmers Scheme or Regional Reserve? Find a list of suitable qualifications here.
WALES: Applications for the Young Entrants Support Scheme 2015/16 will be accepted between 1st September and 30th November 2014. The scheme offers: a one-off payment; a Young Entrants’ Business Enabler Service offering training, information and joint venture opportunities; and/or a mentoring service. Find out more here.
Remember, the EU definition of a ‘young farmer’ eligible for CAP funding is anyone under 40 who is the head of a holding.
NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE (more content below):-
EWE AMNESTY SERIES:Throughout August, Eblex is encouraging sheep producers to pick out underperforming ewes in their flocks and make informed decisions about how to manage them. In the third of this series the focus is on marketing cull ewes and purchasing replacements. Deciding when to market cull ewes can have a significant impact on the price, as Eblex’s Nerys Wright explains. “Our data shows that for the last four years the price has been seasonal and is often a reflection of supply versus demand. We often see the price fall when more ewes come onto the market, typically at weaning and through the autumn months prior to tupping. 94% of cull ewes in the UK go into the ethnic market, therefore knowing the dates of religious festivals that will determine the demand for sheep meat can help farmers maximise income from cull ewe sales.” Ewes that have been culled will need to be replaced. Nerys says: “Many farms buy in all their replacements, while others retain their own animals and some even do a mix of both. There are advantages and disadvantages when retaining and buying in. These need to be weighed up and will be based on the farm system and breed. Buying from a known source and known flock health status can reduce the risk of buying disease in.” IN OTHER NEWS FROM EBLEX THIS WEEK: The levy body has launched an online flock management diary for farmers. The new tool allows you keep track of time sensitive tasks by entering them into the diary, which can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The diary can also calculate important dates for you – if, for example, you input a tupping or lambing date, it will automatically set scanning, vaccination, condition scoring and other related dates. Users will receive weekly emails every Sunday, reminding them of upcoming tasks. Separate calendars can be created for different groups of sheep. Find out more or sign up free here.
WELSH SHEEP FARMERS WANTED FOR ENDOPARASITE STUDY: HCC (Meat Promotion Wales) is looking for Welsh sheep farmers to take part in a study on anthelmintic resistance in roundworms and liver fluke. Farmers who are chosen to have their flocks tested will recieve their results and advice on future treatment programmes. The project will be carried out this autumn and the full results of the study will be published in the spring. Applications close on 12th September. To register your interest in participating in the project call John Richards on 01970 625050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BWMB AUCTION MART ROADSHOW: The British Wool Marketing Board is attending a number of auction markets over the coming months to meet with producers and explain how BWMB is working to maximise the value of their wool clip, both through the competitive auction system and also through its work with the Campaign for Wool to lift demand for wool. Click here for a full list of dates.
LOVE SCOTCH LAMB THIS WEEKEND! Love Scotch Lamb weekend, organised jointly by NSA, Quality Meat Scotland and NFU Scotland, will see farmers heading into town centres across Scotland tomorrow and Sunday to give the public a taste of delicious Scotch lamb. NSA Scottish Region’s George Milne says: “It’s set to be an exciting weekend. There should be an event near each member, so if you’re at a loose end feel free to come along and help out.” Tasting events will be held at: The St Nicholas Centre, Aberdeen (Saturday 11am-2pm); The Co-op, Anstruther (Saturday 11am-2pm); Tesco, Oban (Saturday 11am-2pm); Morrisons, Perth (Sunday 11am-2pm); Sainsbury’s, Braehead (Sunday 11am-2pm); Ayr Flower Show, Rozzell Park (Saturday 1pm and Sunday 1.30pm); Tesco, Dalkeith (Saturday 10am-2pm); Tesco, Galasheils (Sunday 10am-2pm); Asda, Tain (Saturday 1pm-3pm); Tesco, Inverness (Sunday 12pm-3pm); Morrisons, Stranraer (Saturday 11am-2pm); Morrisons, Dumfries (Saturday 11am-2pm). Three restaurants in the Borders will also be showcasing special lamb menus for the occasion: Burts (Melrose), The Auld Cross Keys Inn (Hawick) and The Caddy Mann (Jedburgh).
NSA DIARY OF EVENTS: Click on the event for more information