NSA Weekly News Update 24th April 2015

By Suffolk Sheep Society 28th April, 2015

Round up of all the latest news from the National Sheep Association


INDEX (click link to go to story or scoll down to read all)
NSA ENGLISH COMMITTEE MEETS RED TRACTOR AND EBLEX: Tuesday saw a representative group of NSA English Committee members descend on Stoneleigh Park to spend the morning and early afternoon with Red Tractor Beef and Lamb staff, going through the sheep related standards in great detail. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, explains: “This was as a result of RTA’s David Clarke and Philippa Wiltshire addressing the full English Committee some weeks ago and giving a commitment to spend time discussing the detail of the standards in a separate meeting. All of this follows on from the concern evident when the health and welfare record templates arrived with scheme members, the consultation on whole life assurance for beef, and the ongoing consultation on market and collection centre standards. NSA has been clear all along that we support the scheme and we have learnt from this episode that we need to increase our engagement and input. and this meeting was part of that process. Our English Committee reps made some useful suggestions, although given that the current standards are written, agreed and out there, one of the most effective things we can do at this point is ensure practical and consistent implementation of the standards on farm by certification companies and their inspectorate.” Following this meeting the same NSA English Committee team went on to the new AHDB offices to meet with Stuart Roberts, newly appointed AHDB Beef and Lamb Chairman Stuart will be well known to many from his past life with ABP and his role on the Animal Health and Welfare Board England – he is giving up both of these roles to allow him to focus on steering the future of what is currently Eblex through the transition into AHDB Beef and Lamb later in the year. Phil says: “The close relationship between NSA and Eblex has been of mutual value and our meeting concluded that this should and will continue. I would like to thank John Cross, Stuart’s predecessor, for all the work he did and the collaboration he encouraged, and I look forward to working with Stuart and the Eblex team, and their enthusiasm for the future, in the coming years.”  
EYES ON THE FUTURE IN NSA MEETINGS: Two important internal NSA meetings took place during the week. On Monday NSA staff working on policy issues across the UK – NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker, NSA Communications Manager Joanne Briggs, and NSA Regional Development Officers Helen Davies (Wales), George Milne (Scotland) and Edward Adamson (NI) – met to flesh out policy positions and actions in support of our UK Policy and Technical Committee. Phil comments: “NSA policy and technical work encompasses most of the practical subjects that are important to sheep farmers, whether its CAP reform, sheep EID, standstill rules, or the plethora of health issues that face our flocks. This meeting focussed heavily on sheep EID, and the mix of people gave us the opportunity to learn from our regions. In this case we have Wales still developing EID Cymru, Scot EID in place for several years, and lessons recently learnt from ARAMs in England.” On Wednesday the NSA Finance and General Purposes Committee met at Malvern, discussing the end of year financial results in preparation for the audit and annual report, and the end of first quarter financial results. Another important and stimulating agenda item included a review of VAT procedures. Phil adds: “All of this is crucial work to keep the association running properly and efficiently, and as with all our committees, they run with the voluntary input of some very enthusiastic and elected NSA members.”
NSA SUPPORTS TFA OVER SCOTTISH RENTAL SITUATION: NSA Scottish Region has lent is weight to activity by the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association to draw attention to the problem of non-producing landowners being able to claim Basic Payment Scheme support payments on seasonally let land. Many farmers are facing disruption to their businesses by losing grass lets and/or payment support and LFASS on season grazing land, and so the Scottish TFA has requested a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead to discuss ways to build in more robust and stricter activity criteria to ensure only genuinely active farmers are able to draw down payments. A meeting has been agreed for this coming Tuesday, where NSA Scottish Region Development Officer George Milne will join a group of stakeholder groups. George says: “It is good that we are coming together to discuss this with the Cabinet Secretary, as the outcome of the proposed rules is totally against the original principles and policies of the Scottish Government, which has always said the genuine active farmer, the person looking after the livestock, should receive the payments.”
PRICE DIP ADDS URGENCY TO GETTING LAMBS AWAY: Most members will be aware that the average lamb price took a dip this week, within which there is an increasing differentiation between new season and old season lambs. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reiterates his message from a couple of weeks ago to get old season lambs fit and out of the way now, to make way for new season stock coming through. He says: “Despite the overall average price dip, the market for new season lambs actually looks quite encouraging. This strengthens the message to get on and get older lambs fit and out of the way. The price differentiation will only increase as processors switch to new season, and while I appreciate the difficulties for units with later-born old season lambs, we do need to get these lambs finished as soon as possible to allow the new season to start to run. Cull ewe prices have taken a dip as well, so the message for these is the same, to get them fit and out of the way.”
‘NOMAD’ LAMBS CAUSE PROBLEMS IN NI: In addition to the price dip seen this week across the UK, Northern Ireland is suffering from an additional depressant to the market due to a change to labelling rules from 1st April. A tightening up of EU rules means the Republic of Ireland has been forced to be clearer in its labelling of meat from lambs born in Northern Ireland and finished/processed south of the border. Edward Adamson, NSA Northern Ireland Region Development Officer, says: “This has curtailed trade to the south a bit, which we depend on to keep us right at certain times of the year. However, they rely on our lambs, and I am sure a solution will be found that will allow them to take these lambs that were born in NI and become nomads when they move south.” Edward adds that a meeting in NI is also being organised to look at the situation.
GROWING SHEEP ENTERPRISE GETS A BOOST WITH NEW EID STICK READER: The fourth winner in the 2015 NSA membership recruitment campaign is another long-standingNSA member who qualified for the prize draw by recommending a new member to sign up. Ian Andrews was attending the South Counties Texel Region AGM and dinner earlier in the year, where the guest speaker happened to be NSA’s Chief Executive Phil Stocker, when conversation around the table turned to NSA membership. Ian discovered his friend was not a member, and the result of encouraging him to sign up was winning a Shearwell Data EID stick reader. Ian and his wife have a growing sheep business, having started a flock of pedigree Texels in 2009. They both work off the farm too, including a few days a week for Ian with a commercial flock of 1,600 ewes. Go towww.nationalsheep.org.uk/draw for information on how you too could be a winner in the campaign, and click on the “Winners” tab to read more about Ian and Fiona.
REMEMBER GIFT AID ON YOUR TAX RETURN: NSA’s accountants have asked us to remind members that if we claim Gift Aid on your membership subscription you can include it on your annual tax return. As a registered charity, NSA gets 25p in every £1 from HMRC for each eligible membership subscription that we have permission to claim on. If you have given your permission (either when you joined NSA or subsequently) then we will be claiming £12.50 for full members and £6.25 for under 27 members. If you have given your permission and NSA wasn’t able to claim for any reason we will let you know. If you have given your permission but you are in your first year of membership, we will not claim on your subscription. Please send any questions to enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk.

FREE WEED WIPERS AVAILABLE IN WALES: Welsh is offering farmers and land manages a free weed wiper trial as part of a grassland herbicide campaign. The project, in conjunction with Natural Resources Wales, is aimed at reducing levels of grassland herbicide problems in the River Teifi and Upper River Wye catchment. Farmers can sign up for free hire of wee wipers between April and October 2015, with the intention that more direct applications of herbicide to rushes and weeds will allow less harmful chemicals to be used, reduce overall chemical use and cut spray drift. Click here for more details.  
AUSSIE FARMERS HIT BACK AT PETA: Farmers in Western Australia have hit back at a new anti-shearing campaign from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). ThePETA campaign uses a series of misleading adverts depicting the ‘cruelty’ of shearing and utilising celebrities to endorse them. The Western Australian Farmers Federation says:“The lamb pictured in the campaign is now widely acknowledged as being made of foam and that is only the first of many misrepresentations. No decent Western Australian farmer would shear a lamb of that size. Furthermore, when they are shorn it is to remove their wool, not their skin, as the campaign would have you believe. Shearers are trained in best practice technique, handling sheep in a low-stress manner that greatly reduces the risk of sheep being cut.” Shearers have taken to social media to post pictures of actual freshly shorn lambs, and the Western Australian Farmers Federation is collecting money to send Jona Weinhofen, the latest celebrity to pose in the PETA photographs, to shearing school and learn the realities of the trade. Jona is the lead guitarist of an Australian band called I Killed the Prom Queen.
 NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (more content below)

  • The certification body Organic Farmers and Growers (OF&G) has launched a new OF&G Cymru arm to provide dedicated Welsh-speaking staff and Welsh language resources to organic licensees in Wales. The organisation says the move comes as a result of a booming organic sector in Wales, with a 25% increase in the amount of Welsh farmland going into conversion. OF&G also reminds Welsh organic farmers that they must send their organic certificate and schedule to the Welsh Government by the end of April in order to receive their Glastir Organic payment. More atwww.organicfarmers.org.uk.
  • Barenbrug has launched a new ‘Good Grass Guide’, a pocket-sized bokolet designed to help livestock farmers improve the quality of their pasture and grass swards. The guide includes a field indexing system to benchmark the current quality of swards, with 5 being a highly productive field and 1 being a sward that needs replacing. Request a copy of the guide at www.barenbrug.co.uk/order.
  • This week saw a major move in the land agency world, with Savills announcing a proposed acquisition of Smiths Gore. 
NSA HIGHLAND SHEEP LOOKS FORWARD TO SHOW AND SALE: A multi-breed show and sale of pairs of breeding ewe hoggs, which was a highly successful innovation at NSA Highland Sheep in 2013 and at NSA Scot Sheep last year, is to be repeated at this year’s NSA Highland Sheep 2015 to be held at Fearn Farm, Tain, Ross-shire, on Tuesday 9th June. Last year’s sale at NSA Scot Sheep achieved a complete clearance with a top price of 1,800gns each for a pair of Texel ewe hoggs from Robbie Wilson, North Dorlaithers, Turriff, with North Country Cheviot (Park) selling to 1,200gns and New Zealand Suffolk to 1,100gns. This year there will be eight classes for NSA members to enter, each with prizes for first to third place. All sheep entered for the show must be offered for the sale, which will be conducted by Dingwall and Highland Marts. Entry closing date is Friday 22nd May. Details from Event Organiser Euan Emslie on 01430 441870, 07718 908523 or euan@appliedremedies.co.uk.  
INVITE FOR NSA CENTRAL REGION MEMBERS: NSA Central Region is holding a committee meeting on Tuesday 28th April and, as always, all NSA Central Region members are welcome to attend. The venue will be the Travellers, Brough, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 9HG, and you can find an agenda here.
ADVICE IN NI FOR SPRAYING BRACKEN: With increasing pressure on bracken-infested land not being eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme, and the spraying window just about to open, CAFRE is running two aerial spraying workshops in Northern Ireland next week. The session will cover the practical and legal aspects of spraying bracken from the air. Both sessions are on Wednesday 29th April at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus – one at 2.30pm and the other at 7pm. Emaildevelopmentservice.admin@dardni.gov.uk to register your attendance.
WHERE WE ARE WITH WORMER RESISTANCE? A series of five meetings have been arranged to Wales to discuss findings that suggest anthelmintic resistance is increasing, including to wormer treatments that were previously considered effective at eradicating parasites in sheep. NSA has seen the results that will be discussed and strongly encourages members to attend one of the meetings if they can. Dates and details here.
THREE-MONTH WORK EXPERIENCE PLACEMENT WANTED: Natalie Elms (22) is looking for a voluntary work experience placement from mid-June to mid-September. She is currently studying a foundation degree in conservation and countryside management at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, and says that, despite have no on-farm experience is ‘extremely enthusiastic, with a desire to learn and hard working. Natalie has a full driving license and own vehicle. She is willing to consider anywhere in the UK, but would require accommodation if based outside of Sussex. Contact Natalie on natalie.elms@hotmail.co.uk or 07713 986923.
NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (diary of events below)


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