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What Next for the Northern Sheep Industry?


May 12, 2017

Attracting in the region of 7,000 visitors and over 200 trade stands,  with the election following the next day,  NSA North Sheep taking place on Wednesday 7th June at Tow Law, will more so than ever not  only provide a platform for knowledge sharing with various industry professionals, it will also be a platform for discussion and debate.

Through a number of informative seminars and workshops this major farming industry event, will focus on key issues such as farming when government environmental schemes end, and looking to the future for the current and next generation. The event will be officially opened at 10.30am  by His Grace the Duke of Montrose, President of the NSA, and the Association’s Chief Executive, Phil Stocker.

Organised by the Northern Region of the NSA it will also highlight how one progressive County Durham farm operates their commercial sheep enterprise as this year the event will be hosted by W.H. & J. Smith & Sons, at West Shields Farm, just off the A68 at Tow Law, in County Durham.

Eddie Eastham, Chairman of the NSA Northern Region comments in advance of the event:

“For the sheep farming community across Northern England, NSA North Sheep is both a platform for open discussion and for sheep farmers to naturally gather the latest information and industry trends.  Certainly this year with an election looking on and BREXIT looming there will be much for debate.  There are so many question marks for sheep farming as well as the wider industry as a whole and I do feel that it is very important for people to be as well informed as they can.”

The seminars on the day have been specifically chosen to address key issues which farmers will need to consider going forward, including:

  • Using your accounts as a start to improving your business performance – Hannah Donegan, Tesco.
  • What happens when the schemes end? – Andrew Entwistle, Partner and Head of Valuations at George F. White.
  • Balancing farming and the environment – Adrian Shepherd, Head of Land Management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
  • Sheep meat exports post Brexit – Rizvan Khalid of Euro Quality Lambs.
  • Young ambassadors ‘Next generation, next chapter’ – Thomas Carrick, NSA Northern Regional Vice Chairman.

A major highlight of this year’s event is the first ever ‘Lamb Festival’ which celebrates the extremely high quality and diversity of British Lamb.  The aim of this interactive showcase is to highlight what today’s consumers are looking for when they are buying lamb, and the types of dishes they are choosing to cook.  ‘Jimmy the Lamb Man’ will be demonstrating the different cuts of lamb and sizes of joints whilst Australian-born chef, Simon Hicks, head chef at the nearby multi award winning Lord Crewe Arms Hotel will demonstrate the alfresco ‘Lamb on the BBQ’.

Keen to support the next generation of sheep farmers, the Next Generation Shepherd competition offers young people the chance to demonstrate their shepherding skills.  There will also be an Open Stock Judging Competition and Sheep Shearing Team Challenge

NSA North Sheep is a fantastic business event with all sectors of the sheep industry represented.  Visitors can see the latest industry developments and technology, and seek advice from industry professionals on ways to maximise the efficiency and profitability of their enterprises.

The farm itself is a family run partnership; West Shields Farm is managed by John Smith alongside his two sons, David and Alan.  Also involved are John’s nephew and his son.  The 900 acre traditional mixed farm is home to a commercial sheep flock of 1,350 Mules and some Texels.  In addition, the farm is home to 300 commercial suckler cows.  The Smiths also farm a further 300 acres taking their total enterprise to 1200 acres.

The farm has utilised all possible natural resources to produce renewable energy.   A 12.5 Kw wind turbine was installed in 2012 alongside solar panels and a biomass boiler which feed three houses.  Continuing with the utilisation of natural resources, the 162 acres of forestry is additional revenue stream for the business.

Commenting in advance of the event, organiser Heather Stoney-Grayshon said:  “We have a fantastic schedule of events and competitions taking place on the day and there really is something for everyone within the sheep industry.

“Thanks must go firstly to the Smith family for hosting the event; they really are a fantastic example of a productive commercial sheep farm, maximising all opportunities to future proof their enterprise for the next generation.  Secondly I must thank our major sponsors Vickers & Barrass and Darlington Farmers Auction Mart for supporting the event.”

As an organisation, the National Sheep Association (NSA), represent the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK, receiving tremendous support from everyone connected with the industry.  The NSA is funded by the memberships of its sheep farmers. Together with the many industry related activities it is involved with, it aims to ensure that it plays a key part in every aspect of the sheep farming sector.

By Emily