SUPERMARKETS SHOULD BE WARY ABOUT RESPONSE OF UK PRODUCERS TO POOR PRICES: The four days spent by the NSA team at the Royal Welsh Show NSA, where we fully anticipated a steady stream of members justifiably disgruntled about the lamb price, was uncharacteristically quiet. Royal Welsh week is traditionally the time the lamb price drops, as more lambs come onto the market, and we commonly talk to members at the show about what should be happening to boost demand in line with greater supply. This year, with the price already on the floor, we found a worrying air of resignation instead with some clearly planning changes in lambing next year. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports: “As you would expect poor lamb prices were something that many wanted to talk about, as the showgave us the opportunity to discuss this with retailer and processor representatives, HCC and many others, including representatives from Beef and Lamb New Zealand. While many sheep farmers are despairing over the lamb prices there seemed a resignation that many factors are outside our control, a frustration and anger with the low level of commitment seen from some supermarkets to UK supplies, and maybe a sense that shouting hasn’t helped in the past, or not for long, and it’s better to ‘walk with your feet’. On this front several people commented that the commitment just wasn’t there to risk high input early lambers and they will not continue in future. My message to the retailers is an urgent ‘use it or lose it’.” This is a topic that NSA will be raising in the press next week. The Royal Welsh clearly wasn’t the only place where the lamb price was being discussed this week:-
NSA WELCOMES SCOTTISH LAMB PROMOTION: George Milne, NSA Scottish Region Development Officer, is hopeful the high-impact advertising campaign from QMS will increase consumer’s consumption of lamb in a similar fashion to that of its 2014‘Wham Bam Lamb’ campaign, in which demand for lamb increased 87 tonnes during its 12-week running period. George says: “The timing of the campaign’s launch could not be better, with the annual Lairg store lamb sales held on Tuesday 11th August set to establish the trend for store lamb prices for the remainder of the year. The campaign being in place should be firmly considered as a step in the right direction.” Suzie Carlaw, QMS Marketing Controller, explains: “The target audience for the campaign is young professionals and busy working parents and the message is very much that lamb is not just for roasting at the weekend. We have a huge opportunity to raise the profile of lamb as a quick and easy, value-for-money meal option.”
12TH JULY HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS PROBLEMS IN NI SUPPLY CHAIN: As is usual in Northern Ireland, 12th July week is a holiday period. The week of no markets has led to an increase in supplies as more lambs come ready and it appears that meat processors and supermarkets have taken the opportunity to lower prices even further. NSA Northern Ireland Region is therefore asking why the local price needs to be 40-50p/kg lower than in mainland UK? Edward Adamson, NSA NI Region Development Officer, adds: “A warning to local processors: this prolonged period of below cost of production prices will lead to a reduced supply of local prime lamb in the future. As the traditional breeding season approaches, a consideration of whether now is the time to look for higher quality, fit for purpose, replacement breeding stock is also upon us. Prices, perhaps now more than ever, are likely to be good value.”
NSA PROVIDES A BUSY HUB FOR ROYAL WELSH WEEK: Much NSA activity this week focussed around the Royal Welsh Show, which ran from Monday to Thursday in very acceptable temperatures and conditions. Rebecca Evans, Wales’s Deputy Minister for Farmingand Food, was there throughout and involved in many forums and seminars, and as well as being seen out and about, she paid a visit to the NSA stand on Wednesday morning. Other dignitaries included EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan, Secretary of State Liz Truss and Prime Minister David Cameron. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports: “The Royal Welsh was, as usual, an incredible event and the NSA’s involvement clearly contributed substantially. Our stand, at the head of the NSA building which hosted some 80 trade and breed stands (ably organised by NSA Cymru/Wales Region Development Officer Helen Davies) being a hive of activity for the duration. A highlight for us was an organised visit to the NSA stand by Rebecca Evans, where we talked through the frustration of lamb prices and practical plans for improved biosecurity on sheep farms, before giving her a guided tour around a number of stands within our building. There are always a few unexpected happenings at the Royal Welsh and one of mine for this show included an unplanned (but useful) chat with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan in the gents toilet! Another was being invited to take part in judging a lamb tasting award, where I ate nearly all of 10 lamb cutlets in an hour before being invited to the sponsors’ lunch where we had lamb for dinner – the average consumption of 2.7kg lamb per head per year is pathetic by these standards!” Also at this year’s show:-
NSA hosted a number of visitors over the four days. Pictured above is NSA and NSA Cymru/Wales Region hosting (from top left to bottom right) Farming Minister Rebecca Evans, a trade envoy group from Kazakstan, the Royal Welsh Show Lady Ambassador and her assistant, and the Royal Welsh Show’s Presidents Wife.
Paul Wozencraft, NSA Cymru/Wales Region Chairman, met with Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday. Mr Cameron praised ‘booming exports of Welsh Lamb’ and used it as an example of the potential of PGI status for British food.
The future of Farming Connect in its knowledge transfer role for Wales was confirmed, ensuring its existence through to 2020.
HCC announced its confidence in opening export opportunities to the USA and more countries in the Middle East. It also said EU funding would be used to promote Welsh Lamb in Scandinavia, where good potential has been identified.
MEETING REVEALS PROGRESS ON SHEEP TRACEABILITY IN ENGLAND: NSA has made several requests that at the earliest opportunity we should get the chance to see how ARAMS, the new sheep movements database in England, would help us in the case of a disease outbreak (i.e. to take a look at the tracing function). We therefore attended a meeting with Defra and SouthWestern, along with NFU and LAA, this week. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports: “Movements tracing ended up being only a small part of this meeting and, although we did touch on it and were told how it would work, we will be invited to a further meeting to see this happen. However the reporting function of APHIS, the programme behind ARAMS, was discussed in detail and could clearly be very useful.” The group that met on Thursday will be working to agree a set of routine reports that can be used to inform the service provider and Defra, industry and policy makers. Phil continues: “It was shown that movements reporting has increased by some 20% since ARAMS was introduced. That means far fewer movements are going unreported, which leave us in a far stronger place if there were to be a disease outbreak. A key finding which we have agreed to communicate to members, particularly with the store and breeding sales coming up, is to make it clear that ‘on moves’ (those onto a farm from a Central Point Recording Centre or another farm) do have to be reported/confirmed by the receiving farm. This is a change from the way the old system used to work and the reporting function of ARAMS shows that many sheep keepers are not doing this and are leaving themselves open to penalties. NSA will continue to push this and other messages relating to ARAMS and will also keep pressing to understand the ability to rapidly trace movements in the case of a disease outbreak (which no one wants to see but which we have to be prepared for).”
MORE REWILDING ACTIVITY IN THE MEDIA: NSA has been speaking to the press again this week to explain why the arguments behind the rewilding debate are misinformed. George Monbiot and Chris Packham are two of the people behind a new initiative pushing for the ‘bare land’ of the UK to be planted with forest and predators reintroduced. The website behind the new initiative does nothing to acknowledge that much of the land is privately owned and engaged in food production and environmental stewardship.
NEW NSA STAFF MEMBER: NSA is delighted to welcome Hannah Park, who joined NSA on Wednesday as our new Communications Officer. The role has been vacant since January, so it is great to be back up to full capacity and hopefully means an end to the last few months of the Weekly Email Update occasionally popping up over the weekend instead of on a Friday (as is the case today!) Hannah accepted the job several months ago, ahead of completing her degree in Agri-Food Marketing with Business at Harper Adams University. Her family farms in Cumbria, but Hannah is now based in the Malvern area for her role in NSA Head Office. She looks forward to meeting members over the coming months as she be becomes more familiar with her new role.
NSA CONTINUES EID STICK READER GIVEAWAY: All winners so far in this year’s NSA prize draw have expressed surprise on being told they are the lucky recipient of a freeShearwell EID stick reader kit – but none more so than Tom Clarke, who did not even know he was in with a chance of winning! The family haulage company and his sheep flock at Crediton, Devon, keep him busy so he delegated the form-filling to join the NSA and was unaware of the free prize draw associated with it. He says: “I asked my mum to sort the application out, which she did over the internet, so I didn’t even know I was in the draw. I wanted to join NSA for the great work it does and the information it provides to members. I also wanted to be able to get into the NSA events for free, although I didn’t get to NSA Sheep South West this year as my wife Donna was giving birth to our second child. Members also have the option of selling at NSA ram sales, which might be useful in the future, although I’ve already sold all my breeding stock this year.” There are still five EID stick readers to be given away this year, and as an existing NSA member, YOU can be in with a chance of winning by referring a friend or neighbour to win. More about entering the prize draw here and more about Mr Clarke’s win here.
SHEEP SECTOR TO BENEFIT FROM TWO HCC SCHOLARS: The two farmers chosen as HCC’s 2015 livestock scholars are both sheep farmers with an interest in production systems in New Zealand and Australia. Huw Williams of Talley near Llandeilo and Alan Gardner of Mold have both received a scholarships of £3,500 to spend up to six weeks in their chosen destinations studying a range of farming topics. Mr Williams will look at DNA shepherding and EID tracking in extensive farming systems as a management tool for the selection of breeding replacements. Mr Gardner will investigate how farmers overseas have focused on making their businesses performance driven and what key performance indicators they have monitored to do this. The two 2015 scholars takes the total number to 47 people who have visited countries on every continent to learn new techniques to benefit the farm and processing industries in Wales.
QMS TO INVESTIGATE WAY TO LIFT BUSINESSES INTO TOP 25%: The ‘top 25%’ are regularly referred to in industry work on profitability, but how do producers lift themselves into this category if they are not there already? This is what QMS has set out to find in a new project tracking how the performance of an average performing farm business (which will remain anonymous) can be improved over a three year period. The initiative will monitor the impact of management changes and regularly share the lessons learnt along the way. IN OTHER NEWS FROM QMS, the levy body has established a formal partnership with the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), building on a 175-year close working relationship. The new partnership will advise and inform the QMS Board on animal welfare and wellbeing through the committees which set the standards for QMS’s Quality Assurance Schemes and other channels. The QMS board may also consult the partnership on matters relating to animal welfare and wellbeing. QMS says SSPCA has a ‘keen awareness of the practicalities’ of livestock farming and understands how each link supply chain operates, and that the establishment of a formal partnership indicates the priority placed in high standards of welfare in Scotland.
INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR UK LAMENESS WORK: Work carried out at Nottingham University vet school on lameness in sheep has been recognised with Dr Jasmeet Kaler awarded the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare’s young scientist of the year award. Dr Kaler’s doctoral and post-doctoral work on lameness has formed our more recent thinking that foot trimming in fact delays healing, and that early intervention with antibacterial therapy can prevent footrot taking hold.
NEW RED TRACTOR CHAIRMAN: Jim Moseley has been appointed as the new Chairman of Assured Food Standards (AFS), the company that operates the Red Tractor scheme. He will take over from the current chairman, David Gregory, at the end of November. Mr Moseley has spent nearly four decades in the food and drink industry, with companies included General Mills UK and Tulip, and within organisations include the Food and Drink Federation and FoodDrinkEurope. NSA members will be aware that NSA has been hugely engaged with recent AFS activity around the new standards and proposed future changes. This work is continuing and we will watch with interest to see how this is affected by a new chairman.
FINAL CALL FOR SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS: With the closing date for Nuffield Scholarship applications just days away – Friday 31st July – the trust is urging all prospective scholars to act on the opportunity of a lifetime and submit an application. The application process is straightforward and requires one online form to be submitted atwww.nuffieldscholar.org. Prospective scholars do not need academic qualifications.
MAKE YOUR VIEWS HEARD ON BUYING WORMERS: Thank you to all NSA members who followed the link previously provided in the NSA Weekly Email Update to a survey on how wormers are sold in the UK. This is a really important piece of work and NSA encourages members who’ve not yet completed it to go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/farmerattitudes. All responses are anonymous and confidential and the survey should not take more than 20 minutes to complete. The work has been commissioned by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to try and establish how farmers select and buy wormers, and ultimately, how prescription status affects wormer use. Currently there are conflicting theories between making all wormers prescription-only to encourage more responsible use, versus making all wormers over-the-counter to encourage better take up of the newer wormer groups and slow anthelmintic resistance. Any action taken by VMD as a result of the study will affect all sheep farmers, so participation at this stage will help an informed decision to be made.
NSA CENTRAL REGION COMMITTEE MEETING ON TUESDAY: All members in NSA Central Region are invited to an open committee meeting on Tuesday 28th July, 7.30pm at the Travellers Rest, Brough, Hope Valley, S33 9HG. The meeting will look at the success of the NSA Central Region Winter Fair earlier in the year and collect the views of members on key issues ahead of the NSA English Committee meeting in August. All are welcome.