NSA Members Update - 18th January 2013

By Suffolk Sheep Society 18th January, 2013

Don't forget the NSA Central Region Winter Fair is THIS THURSDAY, Steps to help in Schmallenberg challenge expected soon, Good level of activity around lamb prices, Positive reception from Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister on NSA's proposed animal health scheme, NSA Board covers many topics at first meeting of 2013, NSA pushing for review of TSE controls – but looking at cost-effective disposal options in the meantime, Sheep welfare, transport and snow, Extra meetings put on in Northern Ireland ahead of lambing season, Money-earning opportunity on offer to NSA members willing to consider a slightly different diversification project! Could you provide a two-week work experience for a French student?, NSA EVENTS DIARY.

Don’t forget the NSA Central Region Winter Fair is THIS THURSDAY.

All the information about the Central Region Winter fair at Bakewell Market on Thursday (24th January), including a programme of events, can be found here. NSA members get in for half price at only £5 – but remember your membership card.

Steps to help in Schmallenberg challenge expected soon.

We are still receiving a very high level of calls and emails about Schmallenberg (SBV) and are acutely aware of the incredible stress it is putting on the sheep sector, and particularly those early lambers who are seeing large losses. As explained in previous Weekly Updates, the NSA is working hard with other industry bodies (and with guidance from AHVLA) to create a Schmallenberg survey that would capture information about the disease and hopefully improve our current understanding. This is a top priority for NSA and we will alert members as soon as the survey is available.

Good level of activity around lamb prices.

NSA has been working hard this week to draw attention to the poor lamb price, aiming activity at local, regional and national newspapers and radio stations (rather than farming press). Given reports that some supermarket staff are telling shoppers that UK lamb is out of season a press release issued on Monday included Phil Stocker saying:“While the UK always sees a seasonal peak and trough of numbers of lambs marketed, the nature of our farms means there is never a time when UK lamb is out of season. Across the UK we have a varied climate which results in earlier and later lambing and this in itself spreads the supply of lambs. In addition, when you consider the close relationship between sheep farming and our iconic landscapes – our hills and uplands, downland, lowland meadows and coastal marshes – and the diversity of breeds they support, it is easy to see why quality lamb is available all year round.”


We also produced some top shopping tips, which we would encourage all members to share with their non-farming friends:-

  • Never assume New Zealand lamb is always the cheaper option – look carefully at what is on the shelf and weigh up the options.
  • Always look for British product and, even if it is a little more expensive than overseas alternatives, consider the positive impact home-produced lamb has on the landscape, the environment and rural communities.
  • If no British lamb is available, register your dissatisfaction with the store manager and explain you would like to see home-produced lamb available all year round.
  • If you were looking for a particular cut and find it is only available as a New Zealand product, consider buying a different cut from a UK-bred lamb and look up a new recipe online. Lots of ideas can be found at www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk, www.eatwelshlamb.co.uk and www.scotchbeefandlamb.com.


Media uptake appears to have been very good already and will continue this weekend with Phil on BBC Radio Wales’ ‘Country Focus’ at 7am on Sunday and George Milne, NSA Scotland Development Officer, on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Outdoors’ at 6.30am on Saturday. Also in Scotland, NSA Scotland is co-ordinating a meeting with QMS and NFUS about the price situation on a week on Monday (28th February) and is also planning to meet with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead at some point too.


Positive reception from Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister on NSA’s proposed animal health scheme.

With discussions in England and Wales on-going, NSA NI Regional Manager Edward Adamson has promoted the NSA’s plan for an animal health scheme under the next CAP in Northern Ireland too. An initially positive reception from Michelle O’Neil, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, will hopefully result in a meeting between NSA NI and DARD in February. The NSA’s proposal is for an agri-health scheme under Pillar Two, allowing farmers to collect points for an additional payment (in a similar way as they currently do for agri-environment schemes). Mrs O’Neil’s response to the plan included her saying that she and her officials are aware of the benefits increased levels of animal health and welfare can bring and are keen to see this reflected in the next Rural Development Programme.

NSA Board covers many topics at first meeting of 2013.

NSA Trustees came to NSA HQ from all parts of the UK on Wednesday (16th January) for the first Board Meeting of the year. In addition to the routine organisational agenda items, the Board also received an update on NSA work on the potential RDP Animal Health Scheme, as well as plans for a SBV survey involving AHVLA and other farming bodies, and the latest on the England Movements Database.


Aside from this the main agenda item was Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) with a presentation from and discussion with Philippa Wiltshire, Beef and Lamb Scheme Manager, and involving David Raine, who represents NSA on the RTA Beef and Lamb Sector Board. This Board is chaired by John Thorley, who as a previous NSA Chief Executive has an obvious understanding of the sheep sector. In addition, NSA also has a seat on the beef and lamb technical advisory committee. This week’s incident of horsemeat being found in ‘beef’ burgers is a timely reminder of the need for effective assurance schemes and the NSA Board confirmed the need for the scheme to provide a cross industry foundation giving voluntary declaration of legal and code of practice compliance.


Separate to the NSA Board Meeting, but echoing the sentiments of our Trustees, Nick Allen of Eblex today (18th January) called for clearer labelling of all meat products to aid consumer choice and demonstrate greater transparency. He said: “Co-mingling of meats of different country of origin has been repeatedly raised by consumers as a concern in recent years. We would support calls for clear, simple labelling and welcome a debate on the issue. We would encourage consumers to look for the assurance marks on packs, like the Red Tractor logo or the Quality Standard Mark for beef or lamb, which give a level of reassurance on where a product is from and that it has been produced to clearly defined standards. Our own QSM scheme is independently audited and remains robust. However, in the light of this incident coming to light, we are looking at introducing random DNA testing to beef and lamb produced under our scheme as an additional failsafe.”

NSA pushing for review of TSE controls – but looking at cost-effective disposal options in the meantime.

With TSE controls still requiring sheep farmers to comply with regulations that are based on no evidence of risks to human health, the NSA is making noises that this situation needs to be urgently reviewed. In the immediate term however, anything that can be done to reduce costs and reduce sheep disease risks should be investigated, and with this in mind Phil Stocker, John Geldard, and Margaret Dalton paid a visit to an incinerator manufacturer based in Worcestershire to see how the technology has moved on in recent years, to investigate cost comparisons relating to other methods of disposal, and discuss ways to either share or make capital costs easier for farmers.


It was an interesting visit and certainly the technology has moved on even to the extent of the use of heat exchangers to make use of the heat being given off these machines when in operation. As a result the NSA is planning to produce information via our website on the regulatory controls around incinerators and indications of throughput cost comparisons based on farm size and usage. We will inform members when this becomes available.

Sheep welfare, transport and snow.

While some transport is always essential, members have suggested we put out warnings to farmers and processors to take notice of red alerts in weather and road conditions. They are right of course in that we should not unnecessarily put the welfare of sheep at risk when very clear weather alerts have been given. No one wants to see animals involved in an accident or stranded on a motorway, opening us up to criticism from the media and others. All it needs is thought and an assessment of the needs and the risks involved.

Extra meetings put on in Northern Ireland ahead of lambing season.

Following three successful farm walks last week, organised and supported by NSA NI, AFBI, AgriSearch and CAFRE, two evening meetings are being held in the next few days – details of venues and times are below in the NSA Diary of Events, and both meetings will cover concentrate feeding regimes in the last two months of pregnancy to complement a range of forage types and quality; mineral, energy and protein supplementation; and internal parasites.

Money-earning opportunity on offer to NSA members willing to consider a slightly different diversification project!

We have been contacted by Chris Farnsworth, a sheep farmer who also runs a business called Raising The Baa that uses sheep as part of a training course for large-scale companies who want their employees to develop skills in team work and communication. More information is available at www.raisingthebaa.combut, very simply, Chris works on the basis that if one man and a dog can round up a mob of sheep, surely a team of people can do the same! He says: “Firstlywe are looking for shepherds who are good with people (and sheep!), open-minded, prepared to learn some new skills (training will be given) and who have a wide network of farms with sheep, particularly at this stage in Hampshire, Sussex, Home Counties and Midlands. Secondly we are simply in need of sheep farmers in these same locations whose land and livestock we could use for our corporate teambuilding programmes and who could oversee the activity without necessarily getting involved with the coaching and feedback.” NSA members who are interested can contact Chris via his website or on 01380 609363.

 Could you provide a two-week work experience for a French student?

The CPPA du Tarn Agricultural College in Southern France runs a ‘professional certificate in farm management’ and has asked if any NSA members running 800 or more sheep would consider providing one student – Julienne Calcet – with a two-week work experience placement. The two weeks can begin on 23rd February or 20th April and Julienne would like to coincide with lambing time if possible, although she would like to experience more than solely lambing. She is from a farming background and has experience working with reasonably large sheep flocks; her English is good.If you are able to provide her with a two-week placement please email Ruth Losada at CPPA du Tarn on ruth.losada@educagri.fr.

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


NSA Cymru/Wales Roadshow 1:Tuesday 22nd January, 7.30pm at the RoyalVictoria Hotel, Llanberis. Panel to include speakers from NSA, BWMB and Dunbia; open to members and non-members; refreshments available. Details from Helen Davies on 01938 590535, 07976 803066 or helen@nationalsheep.org.uk.


NSA NI Lambing Meeting 1: Tuesday 22nd January, 7.30pm at Markethill Courthouse, Markethill. Everyone welcome, NSA member or not.


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 Cymru/Wales Roadshow 2:Tuesday 29th January, 7.30pm at the Plough, Rhosmaen, Llandeilo. Other details as above.


NSA NI Lambing Meeting 2: Tuesday 29th January, 7.30pm at the Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown. Everyone welcome, NSA member or not.


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, followed by Prof. E. Wynne Jones (OBE, FRAgS) speaking about ‘How will CAP Reform affect sheep farming in the future? What kind of shepherd will there be in 20 years’ time?’ Open to members and non-members. Click herefor an agenda.


NSA South West AGM: Wednesday 20th February, 7.30pm at Exeter Livestock Centre – please note this is the 20th February; the 27th February was a date circulated in error.


NSA Scotland AGM and Dinner: Saturday 2nd March at Dunblane Hydro, Stirling 4pm for the AGM, 7pm for the Dinner. Tickets (£30+VAT) available from Caroline Orr on 07966 590251 or carolineorr1@hotmail.co.uk.


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