NSA Members Update - 14th December

By Suffolk Sheep Society 18th December, 2012

Positive initial reception to NSA suggestion of gathering data on Schmallenberg, All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) present opportunity to promote export market – and also raise TSE issues, Largest sheep breed survey since 2003 is underway, Scottish farmers asked to use online app to feed into review of Red Tape in Scotland, English Committee meeting attended by Animal Health and Welfare Board for England representative, NSA Scotland and QMS persuade Belgians to buy Scotch Lamb for Christmas, Emergency Authorisation Period looking likely for Asulam products for bracken control, Good news for UK as EU revises rules on cobalt, Requests/offers for work placements are flooding in from all around the world – see below for UK, Swedish, French and Canadian opportunities, NSA members invited to apply for a £1,000 Moredun Scholarship and NSA Events Diary

Positive initial reception to NSA suggestion of gathering data on Schmallenberg.

The huge level of concern about Schmallenberg (SBV), it already apparent impact on early lambing flocks and a sense of apathy from the authorities has prompted the NSA to develop a plan for the industry to take a more proactive approach to the disease. We believe this is necessary as AHVLA and other Government agencies will only start collecting more than the very basic level of information if SBV is made notifiable, a move that will have unwelcome implications on the UK’s ability to trade with Europe and further afield.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “It would be great if the Government could collect this data, so we better understood the situation and how to implement control strategies, including vaccination programmes once a vaccine is available. However, given the reality of the situation, NSA feels very strongly that industry should pull together and ensure an alternative solution is found. AHVLA has expressed a willingness to advise on what information to seek from farmers, and NSA believes it and other organisations should take up this offer and provide a reporting service for sheep, beef and dairy farmers in the hope of collecting enough data to create a clearer picture.”

Preliminary discussions with a number of organisations have gone well and we hope to move this forward before the Christmas break – see future Weekly Updates for more information.

All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) present opportunity to promote export market – and also raise TSE issues.

On Thursday (13th December), Eblex led a delegation that included NSA and NFU to take part in the valuable Beef and Lamb APPG. The main focus of the meeting was beef and lamb exports, the contribution they can make to rebuilding our economy and obstacles that are holding back further growth.

While imports and exports of lamb are long established, in 2011 the UK became a net exporter (i.e. we produce more than we consume). The EU, and France in particular, is our main market for high value cuts – but non-EU markets for fifth quarter and high value cuts are developing and becoming more important. China and Russia are two countries that show huge potential for the future and it was pointed out how important ministerial involvement in trade missions is to open up these emerging markets.

After the formal proceedings were over, the APPG also presented an opportunityto raise the issue of the nonsense of TSE controls in sheep and how this is adding costs and reducing confidence in our product – it is ironic that while there was never evidence that sheep were implicated with CJD they got caught up with TSE/BSE controls and are now being left behind at a time when the controls in cattle are being relaxed. We got the chance to remind MPs that this is an EU regulatory issue that needs addressing.

Largest sheep breed survey since 2003 is underway.

Many NSA members will have already received a sheep breed survey, which we would encourage you to fill. It covers a range of subjects, from which sheep breeds producers keep, to what forage crops they use and which is the most popular month for selling lambs. The results will give a regionalised picture of sheep producers’ behaviour, providing valuable information for NSA and other organisations to better understand how the industry has evolved in recent years.

The survey is being administered by Signet, thanks to funding from Eblex and HCC. Completed surveys should be returned by 14th January 2013, and in the meantime you can follow the progress at www.signetfbc.co.uk.

 Scottish farmers asked to use online app to feed into review of Red Tape in Scotland.

A ‘public dialogue app’ has been launched in Scotland, to allow farmers, land managers, the wider agricultural supply chain and anyone with an interest in farming to engage in online discussions about how Scottish farming should be regulated in future. It will run until mid-June 2013 and is intended to exchange views and ideas to reduce the burden of Red Tape, to feed into Brian Pack’s report for the Scottish Government. Visit www.farmregulation-doingbetter.org to find out more.

English Committee meeting attended by Animal Health and Welfare Board for England representative.

A whole range of topics were discussed at the final English Committee meeting of the year on Wednesday (12th December), with Stuart Roberts of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England joining part of the meeting, specifically to discuss sheep scab and surveillance of exotic diseases. Cuts to Government spending would have an impact on the future of both, he said, but spending money in a smarter fashion (particularly with disease surveillance) could potentially mean an improvement in services rather than just straight cuts.

It was reiterated that the Government would not legislate on sheep scab unless the industry had done all it could do and needed help to just ‘mop up’ the few farmers who were not taking action. However, Mr Roberts said, AHWBE could play a role sooner, for example but challenging AHVLA if there was evidence of health inspectors ignored pens of scabby sheep in markets. The English Committee will follow up this, and other topics, in the New Year.

NSA Scotland and QMS persuade Belgians to buy Scotch Lamb for Christmas.

George Milne, NSA Scotland Development Officer, and Laurent Vernet, QMS Head of Marketing, were in the Brussels this week, in the flagship store of the Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize. The launch of a major campaign to increase sales of dry age Scotch Lamb over the festive period met with a very positive reception from the Belgian media. Delhaize, which is comparable to Waitrose, has been successfully selling Scotch Beef dry sirloin since 2010. It has now extended the range in all 137 outlets in Belgium to include dry aged Scotch Lamb leg – a unique product in the Belgian market – and expects to sell more than 5,000 legs over Christmas and New Year.

 Emergency Authorisation Period looking likely for Asulam products for bracken control.

A decision is expected on or around 11th January that would allow Asulam products to be used in bracken control programmes for an ‘Emergency Authorisation Period’ of 120 days from 20th May 2013, with a use-up period extending until the end of October. Even if this emergency period is agreed to, it is not permitted for stocks of asulam products to be stored on farm. Therefore all product must be disposed of before 31st December; it is illegal to hold stocks after that date.

Good news for UK as EU revises rules on cobalt.

There had been huge concern among UK manufacturers that an EU ruling would force them to reduce the amount of cobalt in feed and supplements to 0.3mg/kg, a level that would be of no help in cobalt-deficient areas. However, as a result of pressure from the UK, the advisory maximum has been set at 0.3mg with the ability to go to a maximum of 1mg when deficiency is a concern. The UK is likely to be one of the only countries to take up the 1mg option, as other EU countries do not have deficiency levels and are concerned about human contact with cobalt when producing animal products. The current maximum is 2mg/kg, but it is felt that the 1mg revision should give sufficient tolerance above requirement to ensure extensive grazing animals in the UK can be adequately supplemented.

 Requests/offers for work placements are flooding in from all around the world – see below for UK, Swedish, French and Canadian opportunities.

UK: Many NSA members have added their details to our ‘Lambing List’, which has been sent out to NSA student members and others, meaning members should soon get vet students and other volunteers ringing up looking for work experience at lambing time. The universities and colleges will give the list to students after the Christmas holidays, so more enquiries should follow then too. If any members know of someone looking for work at lambing time, please ask them to email gill@nationalsheep.org.uk and request the ‘Lambing List’.

FRANCE: We have also had a request to find work placements for six French students in Wales for three weeks in February. They will come individually or in pairs (depending on the farmer’s preference), mostly come from agricultural backgrounds and all have an active interest in sheep farming. They are aged 16-18 and require no payment, just accommodation and food. Anyone in Wales or the Borders should email tara.rozier@orange.fr if they are able to offer a placement.

SWEDEN: A 20-year-old Swedish girl – Julia Pettersson – is looking to come to the UK in March/April and stay for the summer or ‘as long as someone wants me for’! She has some experience and two working dogs. She says: “I would like to come to a place with heart and a will to pass on knowledge. I’m eager to learn and not afraid to work hard. I have a lot to give and would be so grateful for an opportunity. I only require accommodation and food.” Contact Julia at julia@juliapettersson.se.

CANADA:NSA has a number of overseas members and one such couple – John and Eadie Steele – are inviting someone from the UK to join them in Canada for a March-November placement, with the change of longer-term employment for the right candidate. All the details are at www.shepherdschoice.ca/events.html.

NSA members invited to apply for a £1,000 Moredun Scholarship.

NSA members (who are all automatically associate members of the Moredun Foundation) have until 31st December to submit an application for three awards of up to £1,000 each from Moredun, offered in support of projects that may involve travel, work experience, science or the arts. More information at www.moredun.org.uk/scholarship.


NSA EVENTS DIARY(all 2013 NSA events, including next year’s ram sales can be found by clicking here)


NSA Central Region Winter Fair: Thursday 24th January 2013 at Bakewell Auction Mart (by kind permission of Derbyshire Dales District Council). For enquiries speak to Bob and Anne Payne of the Central Region on 01142 883241 or 07803 744437, or Helen Davies, Event Organiser, on 01938 590535 or 07976 803066. Booking forms for trade stands and breed societies can be found here.


NSA Northern Region AGM: Wednesday 13th February, 7.30pm at the Hired Lad, Penrith Auction Mart.


NSA Cymru/Wales AGM:Monday 18th February, 2pm at Hafod Y Hendre on the Royal Welsh Showground.


NSA South West AGM: Wednesday 27th February, 7.30pm at Exeter Livestock Centre.


NSA Scotland AGM and Dinner:2nd March 2013 at the Dunblane Hydro, Stirling.


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