NSA Weekly Update Friday 11th March 2016

By Suffolk Sheep Society 14th March, 2016

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

NSA Weekly Email Update
Friday 11th March 2016

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INDEX (click link to go to story or scoll down to read all)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SURVEILLANCE NEEDED FOR INDUSTRY-WIDE PICTURE: The subject of disease surveillance is never far away from NSA thought processes, and so our UK Policy and Technical Committee met with Amanda Carson on Tuesday, who is APHA’s lead for the small ruminant (including sheep) expert group. Recent developments with bluetongue BTV8 and the heightened risk faced by the UK were discussed, but so too was the ongoing surveillance work being done through post mortem inspections of suspicious cases. NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “One thing that became immediately clear was the fact that few farmers know what is happening in the world of disease surveillance or what services may be available to them. In addition, we still have a problem in that many farmers, via their vets, will only submit what they think is of direct benefit to them, while APHA is working to create national pictures that benefit the industry as a whole. On this front we discussed ways to improve surveillance, such as the use of fallen stock centres, abattoir feedback and finding ways to encourage farmers to submit with a national picture in mind.” Amanda gave details of an APHA website page that contains useful information including a postcode search for post mortem examination and collection services. On bluetongue, NSA is of the view that the most important challenge at the moment is to get animal health companies to start producing vaccine stocks as soon as possible, so vaccination is at least an option. With a two to three-month lead in time this needs some careful planning with reasonable indications of vaccine uptake. NSA is meeting with Defra next week to discuss moving forward with some co-ordinated planning.

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UKP&T DISCUSSES DETAIL ON NSA POLICY POSITIONS: The quarterly NSA Policy and Technical Committee meeting, held this week in Birmingham, discussed a broad agenda including reports from the recent EU Sheep Meat Forum meeting, proposals for a ‘national disaster fund’, the finalisation of our report on the potential impacts of the release of lynx, and the review of the NSA sheep and LFAs report. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “Over a number of meetings we are putting some detail into NSA positions on future CAP reform – and while some might ask is it worth it, given the Brexit referendum, much of the detail is relevant whether we stay in or get out. It is essential that we are prepared well in advance for this with positions well thought through.” The committee also discussed in detail the latest carcase splitting proposals, which have now been well consulted and approved by many industry partners. Phil continues: “The proposal on the table, which has not been agreed or approved yet, is that prior to the end of May each year there will be no splitting and no need to tooth lambs, and from the start of June we would revert to checking teeth and having to split lambs whose teeth have erupted. NSA will be consulting widely with members as soon as we have indication that this proposal is the agreed way forward. And this in no way takes away our determination to see the entire TSE regulations reviewed, with a roll back of a regulation that is founded on no evidence at all.”

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NSA CALLS FOR DEFRA TO TEST EFFECTIVENESS OF ARAMS: Amid concerns over accuracy in the event of a disease outbreak, NSA has publically urged Defra to test the effectiveness of the sheep movement reporting systems in England. NSA is concerned that inaccurate details on the ARAMS system would make traceability, back to the source of an outbreak and out to animals moved, very difficult. This would present a major challenge in containing any disease. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “With some of our members suggesting movement records aren’t up to date, we are concerned over the accuracy of the central information held. The whole purpose of the database is to ensure full traceability of sheep movements, to allow prompt action in the event of an exotic disease outbreak such as foot-and-mouth or bluetongue.” NSA has asked Defra to carry out a ‘dummy run’ several times, to interrogate the ARAMS systems and relate movements back to the farm, but with no progress made we hope this very public message and associated press activity will prompt action. Read the full story on the NSA website here.  

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REACTION TO LEVY DEBATE IN FARMERS WEEKLY: NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker has written to the Farmers Weekly, in response to an opinion piece from Matthew Naylor in last week’s magazine about advertising within the industry. It was suggested throughout the article that generic advertising of lamb and other products is a waste of money, which Phil refuted by highlighting that an important and serious debate on the most efficient use of levy funds very much remains ongoing, and that comments like those of Mr Naylor’s may not be especially helpful. You can read the full letter, alongside the opinion piece, on the NSA website here.

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AHDB HIGHLIGHTS INTERNATIONAL WORK TO NSA REGIONS: Last week Greg Dalton, NSA Northern Region Chairman, and Alan Derryman, NSA South West Region Chairman, visited the Paris Show SIAL, the world's largest food innovation exhibition, with representatives from AHDB Beef & Lamb, including Export Manager Remi Fourrier. Greg reports: “The Paris trip was very hectic but enjoyable and gave us a good opportunity to see how AHDB is helping the industry’s exports to the EU. It is plain to see how important the export market is, especially in France, and how it is a vital avenue for our lamb market here in the UK. Many of us will remember times in the past when it’s absence has caused us to be at the mercy of UK retailers.” Greg highlighted how discussions with Remi had pointed out opportunities to export more lamb. He continues: “Obviously the consumer culture in France is completely different than here in UK. Remi interestingly highlighted how French shoppers are keen to purchase lamb products branded with a St. George’s flag instead of a Union Jack, in saying the latter would be ‘like putting poison in it!’”

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KEY INDUSTRY ISSUES HIGHLIGHTED AT LOCAL LEVEL:Today (Friday) saw NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker accompany Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond in Yorkshire on a couple of visits to member’s farms in the region. Phil reports “I’ve been in regular contact with Rishi, who is also a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee, since he became an MP and took the trouble to contact NSA to discuss some of the issues facing sheep farmers in his area; and he has no shortage of them (farmers or issues!).” Thanks must go to NSA members Tim Brown and John Dixon who took time out to host the visits, at which Phil highlights the delay in single farms payments, cross compliance fines relating to tagging and movement reporting, the lack of broadband access in Rishi’s constituency and the role of the Grocery Adjudicator as key discussion topics. Phil continues: “We heard that there is now a voucher scheme available to offset the costs of satellite internet connections in rural areas, received a commitment from Rishi to put further pressure on the issues around carcass splitting next week in parliament, and also to feed back to Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister George Eustice on the importance of setting out the plans for how the government would support and incentivise farming in the event of an out vote. It’s impossible for people to make a decision if we only know the details of one route of action”.

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CRUNCHING NUMBERS WITH AHDB:Representatives from NSA’s Communication team Joanne Briggs and Hannah Park, alongside Chief Executive Phil Stocker, met with Mark Kozlowski of AHDB Beef & Lamb’s Market Intelligence team on Wednesday morning to discuss all manner of statistics and data collection relating to the sheep industry. With a huge depth and range of information including market prices, production volumes, export and import figures and consumption trends, the aim of the session was about ensuring this wealth of information which AHDB Beef & Lamb make available is fully utilised by NSA.  Phil says: “A reasonable proportion of levy funds are invested in market intelligence and AHDB Beef & Lamb has for a long time done some great work in this area. If there are ways NSA can make better use of this work, while also take opportunities like this to suggest ways its accuracy and interpretation may be improved, hopefully we can take steps to improve the efficiency of levy spend, something which has to be considered worthwhile”.

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NSA WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATE ADVERT (more content below):-

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SHEEP AND TREES FOCUS FOR NSA SCOTTISH REGION:Wednesday saw representatives from NSA Scottish Region host a Sheep and Trees event, involving a visit to Lymiecleugh Farm in the Borders which is owned by Sir Michael Strang Steel and contract farmed by NSA Scottish Region Committee member Ian Hepburn. NSA Scottish Region Vice Chairman Billy Renwick welcomed guests, followed by a presentation from Trudi Sharp, Scottish government. George Milne, NSA Scottish Region Development Officer, says; “The guests were able to see where tress have been planted at Lymiecleugh in recent years and how these have established blocks to assist with sheep management. This has included making good use of the fences around the trees to assist in creating hill paddocks for better management as well as breaks for easier gathering. Interestingly, on the other side of the valley we could see blanket planting which has changed the structure of the entire valley, taking with it the grazing land, the sheep, and the involvement of local people in traditional sheep farming. This was exactly the purpose of the day, to show guests we do not want see whole farms being bought and entirely planted in the future, but instead we would like to see and encourage integration between sheep and trees which would allow for a viable sheep enterprise to continue to operate successfully.” Other speakers on the day included Sir Michael Strang Steel, Ian Hepburn, and Jo O’Hara from the Forestry Commission.

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BBC SERIES DOCUMENTS FARMING YEAR: It’s been a positive few weeks for farming representation in the media and this week saw no let-up,with a documentary series following the lives of five farming families in Scotland – one of which is our own NSA Scottish Region Chairman Sybil Macpherson and her husband George (pictured). The series features some of the most remote regions of Scotland, highlighting the triumphs and struggles faced by farmers throughout the agricultural calendar. NSA members Bobby and Anne Lenox, from Dunbartonshire and John Scott, who hosted NSA Highland Sheep last year at his farm in Ross-Shire in the Scottish Highlands are also featured. The programme is available on BBC iPlayer here. Last weekend also saw NSA Communication Manager Joanne Briggs involved in a ‘sheep special’ on BBC Radio Lancashire Sunday. Listen here.   

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TRACTOR ENGAGES PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN:NSA Northern Region Chairman Greg Dalton took practical learning into his own hands this week, heading to his local primary school with his tractor. Greg explains: “I saw an initiative in Lincolnshire in which farmers were being encouraging to take their tractors into local primary schools to explain what they did. I thought it would be a good idea to replicate this at my local primary, where two of my children attend.” Greg says he used the visit to explain to pupils a bit about the history of tractors, how they became so popular in replacing more traditional agricultural methods and the wide range of jobs they can do. Greg continues: “The children were very interested, along with the teachers. They all had a look inside and were very interested in the technology involved. My main aim was to explain to the children what we do as farmers in an engaging way. Hopefully many of them will be able to go home and share a few facts too.”

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SHEEP AND BEEF PRODUCTION TO RISE IN 2016: Sheep meat production in the UK is set to rise by 4% year on year in 2016, with the sharpest rise expected to happen towards the end of the year, according to a report HCC. The report highlights that the lamb crop in 2016 is forecast to increase 1% on the previous year to 17.3 million head, due to more favourable conditions during tupping (although the weather during lambing is still unknown for many). For 2016, sheep meat exports are predicted to increase in line with production, as conditions are set to improve as sterling remains weaker against the euro than in the latter stages of 2015. The New Zealand sheep meat outlook for 2015/16 suggests a fall in production but there could still be increased shipments to the EU to offset losses sustained in the Chinese market. HCC says it is uncertain at this stage how positive developments in lamb retail sales of recent months could help prices combat the predicted plentiful supplies throughout the year.

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MOORLAND MANAGEMENT AWARD IN SCOTLAND:An award for the best and most innovative moorland management project in Scotland is now open, and may be of interest to members farming in upland areas. Founded in 2013, the Golden Plover award is looking for applicants from individuals who have integrated moorland interests such as sport or conservation, to shepherds who have gone the extra mile to protect a moorland landscape. For further details and information on how to apply, click here.

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STUDENT BURSARY IN MEMORY OF FORMER PRESIDENT: The Three Counties Agricultural Society has announced the launch of a bursary in memory of former society president Joe Henson MBE. The bursary will see grants of up to £3,000 donated to two students from Gloucestershire, Worcestershire or Herefordshire who are studying agriculture or related subjects and will provide support for up to three years of study. Joe Henson was Three Counties Agricultural Society President and known to many for being instrumental in the foundation of the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST). Applications are now open and will close on Friday 1st July, with interviews being held during July and August. For further details and information on how to apply, click here.

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LAMBING POSITION WANTED, ANYWHERE IN THE UK:Gary Gosnell (29) from West Sussex is looking for paid lambing work anywhere in the UK, requiring accommodation if outside of West Sussex, and can start immediately. He has experience of lambing seasons on both indoor and outdoor systems in a range of regions across the UK and has worked on both upland and lowland systems. Gary describes himself as confident in all aspects of work involved with lambing and is willing to carry out shifts during the day or night. References are available. Contact Gary on 07341 934205/01243 607634 or glfarmingservices@gmail.com.    

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

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NSA DIARY OF EVENTS

 

1 Comments

Rob Dunsford

Fantastic article - really enjoyed reading.

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