NSA Members Update 28th March 2013

By Suffolk Sheep Society 2nd April, 2013

Where is Spring?







WHERE IS SPRING?NSA is acutely aware and sensitive to the terrible weather conditions being experienced across the country. Such prolonged snow, deep drifts, subzero temperatures and freezing winds are causing much hardship where stock are outside and lambing is underway, and significant losses are being reported in some cases. After such a challenging summer and autumn of 2012 a late and (for all the wrong reasons) record-breaking spring it is exactly what isn’t needed right now. Of similar concern is the effect on grass growth with any greenery being a rare sight and crops going backwards rather than forwards. Feeding ewes quality diets to maintain milk production is essential, even though this brings a cost, and providing shelter from driving snow and wind wherever possible will inevitably help.

The conditions being experienced will bring hardship to many and NSA will be raising the issue of the use of EU hardship funds on the basis that they are in place and already justified to help the farming community through times of extreme hardship. However, hardship funds usually have to match-funded by the Member State requesting monies, which will not sit well with our cash-strapped Government. However, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead of the Scottish Government has taken already taken action, as the result of three teleconferences in recent days that NSA Scotland has participated in. Reacting to the particular hardship caused by drifting snow in Arran and in and around the Kintyre area and Campbeltown, the Cabinet Secretary has made tracked vehicles and a helicopter available for farmers who couldn’t find sheep. Other areas of Scotland have also been affected badly, with reports of farmers unable to find large numbers of seep in various areas. The timing really could not be worse with lambing having started or about to start on many farms.

NSA has this week made contact with the Addington Fund, which encourages farmers facing real financial difficulty to contact them. The Addington Fund considers applications to pay bills (e.g. feed bills) on a farmer’s behalf if they are related to factors outside the individual’s control, such as the recent weather.

  • Addington Fund: 01926 620135
  • Scotland’s Gatepost Helpline: 0300 1114166 (ran by RASBI)
  • Farm Crisis Network: 0845 367 9990
  • RABI: 01865 727888
  • Find more information on the Farming Help website.

We have already received requests from people wanting to make donations at this difficult time, and recommend that any NSA members also wanting to make a contribution should visit the Addington Fund website. The Prince of Wales has donated £219,000 from the Princes Countryside Trust emergency relief fund to the Addington Fund, FCN and RABI this week.

DEROGATIONS IN PLACE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP DURING SNOW: Natural England, which has made a number of derogations available to help English farmer in environmental stewardship schemes cope this winter, has extended the exemption from needing to contact them before carrying out supplementary feeding. In addition, individuals finding it necessary to delay carrying out specific Environmental Stewardship options should contact Natural England as soon as possible for advice about on obtaining a specific derogation – call 03000 600011, contact your local Natural England adviser or visit the Natural England website.

SCHMALLENBERG FOUND IN SCOTLAND: Although no deformed lambs or calves have been reported, Schmallenberg (SBV) antibodies have been found in home-bred cows for the first time in Scotland, the Scottish Government has confirmed. Testing has been on-going in Scotland but previous positive results have been in animals bought in from south of the border. This first positive result in home-bred animals was in eight dairy cows on the Barony campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC, formerly SAC) in Dumfries and Galloway; the cows had blood taken as part of routine sampling at the college. The Scottish Government says the result is ‘disappointing but no surprising’ and is asking all Scottish farmers to be vigilant and report all foetal abnormalities, stillbirths or newborns showing signs of nervous disease to their vet or local SAC disease surveillance centre. There are also plans to begin a SBV surveillance scheme by testing bulk milk samples from dairy farms across the country.

Don’t forgetall farmers in England, Wales and Scotland are invited to complete the 2012/13 lambing survey, which will help collect information on Schmallenberg and other factors affecting lambing percentages this year. Please fill in the survey (by clicking here) once you have finished lambing, even if you have seen no evidence of SBV.

RURAL ISSUES IN WALES BROUGHT BACK UNDER ONE MINISTER: The Welsh Government has made Alun Davies the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, combining his previous responsibilities for agriculture, fisheries and food with those of the former environment portfolio including climate change and animal welfare. The two portfolios had been split in 2011, creating many difficulties, including for farming bodies such as NSA trying to influence activity in both areas, so it is pleasing to see health and welfare, the environment and climate change once again under the same umbrella as agriculture and food.

INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT FOR WELSH SIX-DAY STANDSTILL OPTIONS: Yesterday (Wednesday 27th March) Helen Davies of NSA Wales/Cymru attended a meeting of the six-day standstill ‘Task and Finish Group’, which was set up as a result of the Working Smarter report into reducing red tape on Welsh farm. With two very different proposals on the table, one from the Chief Veterinary Officer and an alternative, industry-led proposition, it was decided that independent veterinary and economic risk assessments would be commissioned to fully inform any future decisions. NSA understands the industry-led proposal is more similar to the six-day standstill changes being considered for England, but any changes in England will not go ahead until the English sheep movement database is in place. In an update earlier this month on Working Smarter (which is the equivalent of the Macdonald Report in England), Welsh Government confirmed 29 of the 74 recommendations had been implemented and almost all of the rest were ‘being progressed’ ahead of the target of being delivered before the next Welsh Assembly elections.

FARMING RECOGNISED AT INTEGRAL TO THE UPLANDS: The National Centre for the Uplands facilitated a meeting today (Thursday 28th March) that was joined by HRH The Prince of Wales and brought together people from various organisations with interests in upland commons in England, including NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker. There were some wide-reaching interests represented, including landscape, environment, water, access and farming, and the group agreed to work together on a number of case studies highlighting commons management that worked successfully for all stakeholders, taking into account diverse interests. The role of farming and grazing as the foundation of the management of many commons received much recognition, as did the need for reward for land managers for delivering public goods.

In two other news stories this week, HRH The Prince of Wales also formally closed Campaign for Wool’s Wool House exhibition in London on Monday (25th March), with
Prince Charles at Wool Housea reception attended by various NSA representatives to celebrate a hugely successful initiative to promote the use of wool for interiors. Here Prince Charles is pictures signing the visitor book at Wool House. And today (Thursday 28th March), Prince Charles announced Princes Countryside Trust bursaries will be awarded to five individuals or groups who can demonstrate that the use of a Land Rover Freelander for a year would enable them to support their rural community. More information on the bursaries on the Countryside Trust website.

SCOTLAND ALREADY LOOKING AT POTENTIAL IMPACT OF CAP REFORM: NSA members in Scotland are likely to have received a letter from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC, formerly SAC) and the James Hutton Institute asking if they will participate in a short telephone survey in May, asking about CAP reform and how you might change your farming business when the new rules comes in. Questions include how you would react to lower or higher payments than you currently receive, how you are preparing for any possible change, and how the on-going uncertainty over the reform has affected your business. Anyone wishing to participate does not need to do anything, but those wishing not to need to respond to the letter. The survey is being carried out on behalf of the Scottish Government and the results will be used by them to decide where future funding is directed. But remember, given that the final version of the CAP policy is far from confirmed yet, NSA Scotland will continue to fight hard on your behalf in Brussels and Scotland.

NEXT STEP IN THE STAMP OUT SCAB CAMPAIGN: As part of its commitment to engage everyone in the English Stamp Out Scab campaign, Adas is running a series of meetings for farm service providers in April and May. NSA encourages all its members to spread the word to shearers, scanners, Trading Standards officers, assurance scheme inspectors, RPA, animal health officers, auctioneers, pharmaceutical representatives, hauliers, field officers for markets and abattoirs, and others about the events listed below. NSA will also alert members when the series of farmer meetings starts in June/July onwards. The Stamp Out Scab project is being delivered in England throughout 2013 by Adas consultants and veterinary surgeons on behalf of Eblex (AHDB), as a result of funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The meetings for farm service providers are:-

  • South Molton:Monday 8th April at the George Hotel, EX36 3AB.
  • Launceston:Tuesday 9th April at Trethorne Golf Club, PL15 8QE.
  • Exeter:Wednesday 10th April at the Livestock Centre, EX2 8FD.
  • Sedgemoor:Thursday 11th April at the Junction 24 Conference Centre, TA6 6DF.
  • Plumpton:Tuesday 16th April at Plumpton College’s Sussex Rural Business Centre, BN7 3AE.
  • Thame: Wednesday 17th April at the Oxford Belfry Hotel, OX9 2JW.
  • Melton Mowbray:Thursday 18th April at the Livestock Market, LE13 1JY.
  • Newmarket:Tuesday 23rd April at Heath Court Hotel, CB8 8DY.
  • Bakewell:Wednesday 24th April at the Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale, DE4 2EQ.
  • Chelford:Thursday 25th April at the Agricultural Centre, SK11 9AY.
  • Stratford:Monday 29th April at the Livestock Market, CV37 8LE.
  • Hereford:Tuesday 30th April at Preston Wynne Memorial Hall, HR1 3PB.
  • Shrewsbury:Wednesday 1st May at the Livestock Market, SY4 3DR.
  • Gloucester:Thursday 2nd May at Waterend Farm Country Meeting Room, GL11 5DR. (Please visit www.waterendfarm.co.uk and DO NOT follow sat.nav).
  • Kendal:Tuesday 7th May at the Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre, LA7 7FP.
  • Hexham:Wednesday 8th May at the Beaumont Hotel, NE46 3LT.
  • Darlington:Thursday 9th May at the George Hotel, Piercebridge, DL2 3SW.
  • Clitheroe:Monday 13th May at the Stirk House Hotel, BB7 4LJ.
  • Carlisle:Tuesday 14th May at Borderway Auction Mart, CA1 2RS.
  • Northallerton:Thursday 16th May at Applegarth Mart, DL7 8LZ.

All meetings are 2pm-4pm. Book a place on 01432 820444 or stampoutscab@adas.co.uk.

As an organisation, NSA holds very little information about our members and so we are conducting a very simple questionnaire to increase our knowledge. We feel that the better we understand our members the better we can serve you, but currently we have no idea about average flock sizes or the enterprises being managed. You will find the survey in the current edition of Sheep Farmer but also online by clicking here.
This information is solely for internal use and no information we hold about members is shared with any third party unless we seek your permission first. Please call NSA on 01684 892661 if you have any questions.

ROYAL RECOGNITION FOR THREE COUNTIES SHOW: Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire’s annual agricultural show will now be known as the Royal Three Counties Show. The show has had a long association with the Royal, with the first event at the permanent Malvern showground in 1958 being opened by HM the Queen Mother, but there is no word yet on whether a royal visitor will attend this year’s event on 14th-16th June.

FREE ONE-HOUR RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSULTATION OFFERED BY FARMING CONNECT: Welsh farmers can register with Farming Connect for a fully-funded one-hour consultation with an independent renewables experts, plus free entry to the Welsh Renewable Energy Exchange event at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, on Thursday 18th April. The event is aimed at all renewable energy and heat technologies, including wind, solar, hydro, anaerobic digestion, biomass heating, and heat pumps. To book an appointment email lindsay.davies@menterabusnes.co.uk.

NSA SCOTLAND HOSTS OVERSEAS STUDENTS: Yesterday (Wednesday 27th March) NSA Scotland Development Officer George Milne hosted 45 French school students,
French students at George's farmshowing them around the sheep and cattle on his farm at St Andrews, Fife. George says: “They were here for a good two hours and, with very good English or the help of a translator, asked a lot of questions. They were senior school students, so weren't that old, and were studying agriculture as one of their options. It’s very good to get them started at that stage if they’re interested in farming.”


  • Stamp Out Scab roadshow:Spread the word about this series of meetings in England, running until May 16th, for shearers, scanners, Trading Standards officers, assurance scheme inspectors, RPA, animal health officers, auctioneers, pharmaceutical representatives, hauliers, field officers for markets and abattoirs etc. Click here for dates and locations. Events for farmers will run in June/July onwards.
  • 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 informationhere.
  • 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 Northern Ireland: 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.
  • Details of next year’s ram sales can be found by clicking here.


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