NSA Members Update - 22nd February 2013

By Suffolk Sheep Society 22nd February, 2013

VMD acknowledges urgent need for SBV vaccine and publishes update, Appetite in Northern Ireland for farm payments linked to animal health, Good debate at both NSA Cymru/Wales and NSA South West AGMs, NSA NI gives lucky members a boost ahead of lambing, Inward mission from Middle East focuses on UK lamb and mutton, Sheep farmer and two processors join Eblex Board, Date for the Diary: Sheep Breeders Round Table 2013 and NSA EVENTS DIARY

VMD acknowledges urgent need for SBV vaccine and publishes update.

The focus on Schmallenberg (SBV) at both NSA regional AGMs this week (Wales and SW) underlined yet again the huge frustration amongst the farming community and the desire for news on the vaccine. Regular communication from NSA and other organisations has made this clear to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and this week they took the unprecedented step of issuing information before a new product has been approved or not for use. Specifically on MSD Animal Health’s vaccine (Bovilis SBV), VMD confirmed the product passed validation for a Provisional Marketing Authorisation in mid-September and underwent an initial assessment. This resulted in additional questions being asked of MSD in November, which were answered by the end of January 2012 and are ‘currently being assessed’ by VMD.


A statement from VMD said: “Despite the good progress, at this stage it is not possible to provide an indication of when the vaccine may be authorised. The VMD recognises the impact on individual animals and farmers a disease such as Schmallenberg can have, and will operate timelines for the remaining stages of consideration of the application mindful of this while ensuring, through our rigorous scientific assessment process, that proper care is taken to ensure that any vaccine is safe for the relevant livestock.”


NSA sees this as a positive sign and will update members as soon as we know more. In the meantime, understanding of SBV needs to be improved and we urge you to fill in the 2012/13 Lambing Survey as soon as you have finished lambing. The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WWHBNC5 and should take about 10 minutes to complete if you have to hand information on the number of ewes and losses between then and lambing. Please complete the survey twice or more if you lamb ewes in two or more batches. If you know any NSA members without internet access please tell them they can contact NSA to complete the survey over the phone instead – weekdays (9am-5.30pm) on 01684 892661, preferably with their NSA membership number to hand.


Appetite in Northern Ireland for farm payments linked to animal health.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker spent Thursday (21st February) in Northern Ireland with members of the NSA NI committee, and together they met with DARD to discuss CAP reform. Edward Adamson, NI Regional Development Officer, had previously communicated with DARD about NSA’s proposal of an animal health scheme under Pillar Two (RDP) of CAP and the meeting with Martin McKendry and Lorraine Lynass built on this. The meeting was positive and upbeat with DARD seeming enthusiastic about including health and disease control in a RDP scheme, agreeing with NSA that this will deliver a number of public goods.


Thursday also saw a meeting with Jim Freeburn and Neville Graham, both of whom work for CAFRE out of Greenmount College. Once again the work of CAFRE as the NI extension service demonstrated the incredibly well integrated approach Northern Ireland has to research and development and sharing new ideas and practices with farmers.


Good debate at both NSA Cymru/Wales and NSA South West AGMs.

Schmallenberg, lamb prices and levy money dominated discussions at both the NSA Cymru/Wales AGM (Monday 18th February) and NSA South West AGM (Wednesday 20th February). The Cymru/Welsh AGM saw David Pittendreigh, Paul Wozencroft and Helen Davies stay in place as Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer respectively. The only change is Tim Ward as the new Vice Treasurer. The guest speaker on the afternoon was Professor Wynne Jones, former Principle of Harper Adams and current Chairman of Farming Connect’s strategic advisory board. A report from his presentation will be in the March/April edition of Sheep Farmer.


There was no change to the committee at the NSA SW AGM, with Robert Jordan, Bryan Griffiths and Sue Martyn staying in place as Chairman, Vice and Secretary respectively. They invited NSA’s Phil Stocker to speak after the AGM, alongside Chris Berry, who won the 2012 Novartis Scholarship to New Zealand. He made insightful comparisons of UK and NZ production systems and said the experience had changed his life, both in terms of sheep farming and his personal attitude towards meeting new people and trying new things.


Levy money came under scrutiny at the Welsh meeting, amid fears closure of Welsh Country Foods at Anglesey would mean Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) getting an even smaller share of the levy pot. Meanwhile, members in the South West were concerned about the balance of levy-funded activities, feeling there was too much focus on research and knowledge transfer, at the detriment of product promotion and market development. NSA feels very strongly about the promotion of lamb (whatever part of the UK it comes from), especially given the recent struggle with prices and the need to keep consumers buying British. But at least on the price front there continues to be glimmer of light, with an additional 10-15p/kg DW being seen this week for in-spec lambs, on top of the average £3.60 reported the week before. We continue to be grateful that the horsemeat scandal has not affected lamb or British Assured products so far, and claims of 40% higher sales in high street and independent butchers could well be working in our favour.


NSA NI gives lucky members a boost ahead of lambing.

NSA NI has teamed up with Parkland Vet Group again, this time to offer a free-of-charge lambing refresher course to six individuals. NSA NI randomly selected four members to participate – John Convery of Draperstown, Roy Graham of Dromore, Howard McIlwaine of Saintfield and Lewis Morrow of Carrickfergus – and as a sign of its commitment to the next generation, also invited two previous Young Shepherd competitors – Adam Crockett of Castlederg and John Crawford of Ballymena. All six said they were surprised by the amount of information and practical advice they received and, despite already having a comprehensive knowledge of lambing, found the course very useful and thought many others could benefit from something similar.


Inward mission from Middle East focuses on UK lamb and mutton.

UK controls for production of lamb and mutton, meat hygiene and halal were all under scrutiny last week when nine vets from the Gulf Co-operation Council (which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar) visited England and Wales to inspect processing plants and farms. The mission, which was sponsored by Eblex, Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Invest Northern Ireland, and supported by Defra and UK Trade and Investment, was the culmination of two years’ discussion with the Gulf Co-operation. Currently the UK can export lamb and mutton to the Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, but not to Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. To keep up work in this area, Eblex will be at the Gulfood Exhibition in Dubai at the end of this month.


Sheep farmer and two processors join Eblex Board.

Three new faces will join the Eblex board from 1st April 2013, to help steer the work of the organisation. Ros Turner runs 375 breeding ewes (Suffolk crosses and Mules) in Leicestershire, produces hay and haylage for the equine market and runs a small retail grass and fodder crop seed business. Rizvan Khalid is senior director of Euro Quality Lambs, a family-run abattoir based in Shropshire, with a focus on the lamb export trade. And Mark Allan is head of livestock procurement at Dawn Meats UK, based in Bedfordshire, and currently purchasing cattle and sheep for all five Dawn Meats abattoirs.


Date for the Diary: Sheep Breeders Round Table 2013.

Held every-other-year, the Sheep Breeders Round Table returns at the end of 2013, this time with the theme of ‘Transforming data into profit’. The conference will be held at Eastwood Hall, Eastwood, Nottingham, will start at 12 noon on Friday 1st November and conclude with lunch at 1pm on Sunday 3rd November. More information to follow later in the year.


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


NSA Scotland AGM and Dinner: Saturday 2nd March atDunblane 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.


NSA Welsh Sheep: Tuesday 21st May at Beili Ficer Farm, Llansawel, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 7JT. More information here.


NSA Highland Sheep: Thursday 30th May at Dingwall Mart, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV15 9TP. More information here.


NSA North Sheep: Wednesday 5th June at Crimple Head Farm, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1QT. More information here.


NSA Sheep South West: Tuesday 11th June at Moortown Barton, Knowstone, South Molton, Devon, EX36 4RZ. More information here.


NSA Sheep NI: Monday 1st July at Ballymena Market,Woodside Road, Ballymena, County Antrim, BT42 4HX. Email Edward Adamson for more information by clicking here.


Sheep Breeders Round Table:Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd November at Eastwood Hall, Nottingham. More information available later in the year.


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