NSA NEXT GENERATION AMBASSADORS ANNOUNCED: Following a gruelling selection process to whittle the 41 applications down to just 12 individuals, NSA is delighted to announce it’s 2015 line-up of Next Generation Ambassadors:-
Lynn Allison, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire
Sam Bullingham, Okehampton, Devon
Thomas Carrick, Alston, Cumbria
Ewan Cumming, Denton, Norfolk
Jonny Farmer, Ballymena, County Antrim
Harry Frederick, Tonbridge, Kent
George Gough, Knighton, Powys
George Hartley-Webb, Bury St Edmunds , Suffolk
Clarke Hibberd, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
Oliver Newman, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Georgie Radmore, Yelverton, Devon
Lewis Sayers, Bingham, Nottinghamshire
Click here and find the “2015” tab to read a mini profile of each of the Ambassadors. The 12 individuals will attend five delivery sessions through the year, covering a wide range of sheep topics, business skills and personal training, as well as gaining the qualities to promote and support the sheep sector in future as a long-term NSA Ambassador. They will meet the 2014 Ambassadors, who are all still closely linked to NSA and play an active part in encouraging other young farmers and discussing the issues facing sheep keepers around the UK. Joanne Briggs, NSA Communications Manager, says: “We thought it was tough to select our 2014 Ambassadors, but it was even harder this year as word of the scheme had spread and we were swamped with excellent applications. With only 12 slots available we were forced to turn away some truly remarkable young people and it was with great difficultly that we whittled the applicants down. Our thanks go to everyone who put in an application. Your passion and enthusiasm shows the depth and strength of our sector, and how fortunate we are in the professionalism and dedication of the young people coming through as the sheep farmers of the future.”
POSITIVE DAY FOR THOSE WHO BRAVED THE SNOW AT NSA CENTRAL REGION WINTER FAIR: The snow and terrible travel conditions did little to dent the enthusiasm of sheep farmers and allied industries at the NSA Central Region Winter Fair, held at Bakewell Market, Derbyshire, on Thursday. Attendance was lower than organisers hoped, but given the state of the roads in the area, they were delighted to be able to go ahead at all.
Anne Payne, Event Organiser, says: “We are so grateful to the trade stand holders, seminar speakers, competition judges, and stewards who braved the weather to support the event, as they ensured the visitors who attended had a brilliant day. There was a real buzz of enthusiasm, with farmers from the area picking up practical tips for their businesses and meeting new and old friends alike.” Click here for a full report.
LUCKY STREAK FOR YOUNG SHEPHERD TOM BIRD: Tom Bird (19) showcased his shepherding skills so well at the NSA Central Region Fair that he not only won the prize for best under 21, but walked away with the overall title too. As if this was not enough excitement for one day, he was also announced as the first winner in the 2015 NSA membership recruitment campaign, taking home one of the 12 Shearwell EID stick reader kits being given away this year. Tom is a student at Reaseheath College and also works on the family farm in Derbyshire. He is pictured here (centre) with NSA Central Region Chairman Richard Wheeldon (left) and Sam Webber, Shearwell Data’s UK and International Sales Manager. Click here to read more about Tom’s prize win – and go to www.nationalsheep.org.uk/draw to find out how to be in with a chance to win a stick reader yourself.
STRONG VIEWS SHARED AS 200 FARMERS ATTEND RED TRACTOR MEETING: Around 200 farmers packed a venue on the edge of Cullompton, Devon (pictured), for the first of the three scheduled Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) meetings that NSA has been encouraging members to attend. The meeting was in two halves, firstly to give an overview of the scheme and its progress over the years, along with the rationale behind the new health recording requirements, and secondly to discuss proposals for whole life assurance for beef. The meeting was chaired by Anthony Gibson, whose experience and knowledge was essential in holding together a very highly charged meeting where pretty much unanimous views were made. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, left the NSA Central Region Winter Fair early in order to attend the meeting in Devon. He reports: “This was one of the most vociferous farmer meetings I have ever attended, but it was essential in order to air such strongly held views and to start to increase the level of communication between the scheme and its members. With several shows of hands it was evident that RTA is supported and valued, but that it was going too far with its expectations and requirements, and without evidenced justification. NSA has been consistent in saying that the scheme should be a voluntary declaration of legal compliance (similar to a ‘kite mark’ in other industries). For whole life assurance I find it impossible to accept that the pressure for this additional step for beef will not have an impact for sheep, and while I have been accused of risking raising this unnecessarily I think that sweeping sheep under the carpet will lead us into real problems in the future.” See the diary at the bottom of the page for dates of the forthcoming meetings in North Yorkshire and Warwickshire.
SCOTTISH DRIVEFOR FARM ASSURANCE:While discussions about assurance standards rumble on in England, Quality Meat Scotland has launched a major new recruitment drive to encourage more farmers to become farm assured. The push marks the 25th anniversary of the schemes behind Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb PGI. Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS, says: “It is important that everyone in our industry plays a part in encouraging any weak links in the chain which are not assured to join. Whether they are farmers, hauliers, feed companies, auction markets or processors, it is vital they understand the importance of whole chain quality assurance to the future of their businesses and our industry.” For QMS assurance information contact email@example.com or 01313 356602.
FOOD CHAIN INFORMATION UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: A team from Food Control Consultants led a cattle and sheep meeting at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, on Friday as part of an FSA project looking at more effective, risk-based and proportionate approaches to meat controls. The aim was that new approaches should protect public health but also animal health and welfare. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, attended for NSA. He reports: “While most would agree with the intentions, the practicality soon led to an interesting debate about cattle and sheep zoonoses causing food related illness, and of course how much of any problem is caused after the point of retail i.e. in the kitchen. There was understandable nervousness about feeding farm health information up the food chain, and much discussion about improving information feedback to producers as well as the use of abattoir information for wider disease surveillance. Abattoir feedback is something that could be of real use to producers, and while it is taking place at a certain level in some situations, made could be more of it. NSA will stay involved in this topic of debate and keep you informed.”
SCOTTISH NATIONAL RESERVE NOW OPEN: The National Reserve in Scotland will be open for applications until Friday 15th May, but the Scottish Government is urging those who want to apply to do so sooner rather than later, to avoid delays to their payments. The 2013/2015 ruling on claims has been dropped (on advice to the Scottish Government from the European Commission) so businesses that have genuinely expanded between 2013 and 2015 will be allocated entitlements on their eligible land claimed in 2015, and not be restricted to the land they claimed in 2013. Scotland has retained the wider access clause, allowing automatic access to payment entitlements for farmers who were actively farming in 2013 without SFP, therefore avoiding the need for these farmers to claim entitlements through the National Reserve.
NSA HIGHLAND SHEEP CONFIRMED FOR 2015: NSA Scottish Region has announced that the NSA Highland Sheep event (which was new for 2013) will go ahead again this year. An exciting venue has been selected, with the current Farmers Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year, John Scott, agreeing to host the event on Tuesday 9th June. More details here.
REMINDER ON TAIL DOCKING: The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, previously AHVLA) has asked NSA to remind its members that when docking lambs’ tails they need to ensure there is sufficient tail left to cover the anus of males and the vulva of females, and to do so as the lambs grow and conformation changes. An APHA spokesperson says: “Over time there has been an improvement in this matter, in that fewer sheep are seen with short docked tails. It is appreciated that this problem occurs in a minority of breeds or crosses, but APHA continues to receive evidence that the problem persists at a low level. APHA will take action when evidence of short docking is observed. This may involve an investigation and a report that leads to prosecution. The act of short-docking is a breach of cross compliance requirements and may have implications for a producer’s Basic Payment Scheme payment and income from other support schemes.”
STUDY LOOKS AT ROLE OF ANTIBIOTICS IN TACKLING CODD: A study co-funded by HCC and Eblex at Liverpool University has provided the first detailed examination of contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) and is the first to provide important information on the antibiotics used to treat this disease. The first stage of the study centred around four sheep farming in North Wales between March 2013 and July 2014 and an extension to the original work will now look at the efficacy of whole flock antibiotic treatment on 30 farms this year. For the full report of the first stage of the study click here.
EWE NUTRITION AND LAMBING LOSSES WORKSHOP, LEICESTERSHIRE: NSA is supporting an Eblex event at Hall Farm, Brooksby Melton College, Leicestershire, on Wednesday 18th February. For more information on the afternoon event, which will include some excellent speakers and a farm walk, click here.
SPEAKERS CONFIRMED FOR WALES AGM: Taking the industry forward will be the theme of the NSA Cymru/Wales Region AGM, to be held at Hafod a Hendre on the Royal Welsh Showground on Thursday 19th February. The line-up of inspirational speakers includes Dai Morris, sheep farmer and recent John Gittins award winner, who will reflect on 50 years in sheep farming and looking to the future. Steve Hughson, Royal Welsh Chief Executive, will also share the society’s vision for the future, while NSA Next Generation Ambassador Rhydian Thomas will give his thoughts on progressing the project. The meeting begins at 2pm. Click here an agenda and more information.
YOUNG SHEPHERD ENTRIES OPEN FOR NSA NORTH SHEEP: Entries for the NSA North Sheep Young Shepherd of the Year Award, sponsored by Askham Bryan and Newton Rigg colleges and held on Wednesday 3rd June, must be received by Monday 11th May. Matt Bagley, Head of Agriculture at Newton Rigg College, Penrith, says: “This is a multi-skilled competition, a test of skills, knowledge and aspirations which covers the main features of handling sheep. Within the younger generation, there is a considerable amount of talent and a deep rooted history in the sheep industry. The competition side between the young people is increasing in popularity which I find very heartening, as it gives these young people, who are of course our farmers of the future, an opportunity to showcase their skills.” To enter the competition, and find out more about NSA North Sheep, click here.
‘AUCTION RING RIDE’ FOR RABI: To coincide with the NSA Central Region Winter Fair, a team of fundraisers for RABI highlighted that Bakewell Market will be the start of their 300-mile cycle ride between eight auction marts in the East Midlands this spring. The cyclists are coinciding their charity ride with the start of Great British Beef Week (Tuesday 21st April) to promote this activity as well as raise money for RABI. Go to www.justgiving.com/AuctionRingRide to make a donation.
TWO FRENCH STUDENTS SEEKING WORK EXPERIENCE PLACEMENTS: We have been contacted separately by two French agricultural students looking for on-farm placements in the UK in order to complete their studies.
Léa Garriga (23), a student in farm management at Bordeaux Science Agro, is looking for a placement of two to four weeks in February or March. Léa has already spent time on sheep dairy farms in France but is looking to learn about UK sheep meat production and improve her English skills. Accommodation required; no wages expected. Contact Léa on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aurelien Desroches (21), a sheep farmer’s son and agricultural engineering student from near Paris, is looking for a three-month placement from June to August on a farm producing prime lambs. He has on-farm experience (including general farm work, lambing, quad and tractor driving) and has also worked for a French organisation advising farmers on improving carcase quality. Contact Aurelien on email@example.com.