The National Sheep Association will be hosting a number of seminars and workshops as part of their NSA North Sheep Event which takes place on Wednesday 7th June, at Westshields Farm, just off the A68 at Tow Law, in County Durham, by kind permission of WH & J Smith & Sons.
The seminars will kick off with a talk on ‘What happens when the schemes end?’ where Andrew Entwistle, Partner at George F. White will examine the statutory framework behind environmental designation such as special areas of conservation and sites of specific scientific interest. Tracts of land used for sheep farming are commonly included in such schemes, and Andrew will discuss some ‘what if’ scenarios in the case of schemes coming to an end.
Andrew Entwistle explains: “Throughout the seminar we will look at what stance statutory bodies such as Natural England will take post Brexit. We will also look at what controls can be exercised on sheep farmers, and what farmers should be doing now to prepare for scheme negotiations.”
Also featuring will be ‘Balancing Upland Farming and the Environment’ which will be chaired by Eddie Eastham, NSA Northern Region Chairman. Throughout the seminar, Margaret Read, Head of Commons, Access and Inland Waterways at Defra, will discuss and formulate any new “UK” replacement support and environmental schemes. Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director for the National Trust will explain the trust’s future plans for upland areas, seeing as any policy changes can impact on many people, particularly upland sheep farmers. Also speaking is Phil Stocker, Chief Executive of the NSA who has been focussed on promoting upland sheep farming. Phil will be putting forward many good reasons why ongoing financial support for upland farming is justified.
NSA Board Member and sheep farmer, John Gerald will chair a seminar on sheep meat exports post Brexit. Currently, the UK sheep industry relies heavily on exports to the EU and future trade deals could put this market at risk. However, there is also the possibility of opening up new markets for this product in non EU countries. With so much still unknown, this seminar is aimed at giving some direction for the future of UK sheep meat exports. During the seminar, Rizvan Kahlid of Euro Quality Lamb, Norman Bagley, director of AIMS and Remi Fourrier of AHDB’s French office will discuss domestic and export markets and give a sense of likely trends post Brexit.
The final seminar, chaired by Thomas Carrick, will feature a number of young industry ambassadors who give a talk on the issues facing young people trying to get into the agricultural industry. Hannah Jackson will highlight the struggles of a young person from a non-farming background who developed a passion for hill shepherding; with no family farm to rely on, it can be extremely difficult to make a break into a very specialist sector. James Hamilton will talk about securing a farm business tenancy, which can seem an impossible reality for many young farmers. James will also explore the farm manager’s role and the steps to attaining this position. Finally, Tom Vickers will speak about his experiences of leaving home to pursue his education, before returning to take on the running of the home farm.
10:00 – 11:00 What Happens When the Schemes End?
11:15 – 12:45 Balancing Upland Farming and the Environment
1:00 – 2:30 Sheep Meat Exports Post BREXIT
2:45 – 4:00 Next Generation – Next Chapter
There will also be a selection of workshops taking place throughout the day. The Moredun Foundation is a charity that exists to promote the highest possible standards for animal health and welfare. Dr Dave Bartley, Leading Parasitology Scientist at Moredun, will present a workshop on sustainable worm control in sheep, discussing diagnosis and also demonstrating facial worm egg count.
Following this, Ian Booksbank, senior head grader at British Wool will guide farmers through the grading process which all wool undergoes to establish its quality and value. Throughout the workshop, Ian will explain how the presentation of fleeces can increase the value of farmers’ wool, and the steps which can be taken to ensure farmers are making the most of this commodity.
MSD Animal Health will be running a workshop on ‘Planning for a Healthy Flock’. Through an interactive session, MSD will focus on preventative healthcare strategies and vaccination planning, as well as highlighting some specific diseases.
Finally, Dr Mark Young, Head of Innovation at The Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock, will highlight the genetic change in New Zealand sheep based on data from data from the Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL). Mark will consider economic signals and explain how New Zealand ram breeders have adapted their breeding goals to suit the market and take advantage of new technologies.
10:00 – 11:00 Moredun Foundation – Sheep Biosecurity
11:30 – 12:30 British Wool – How is your wool graded?
1:00 – 2:00 MSD – Planning for a healthy flock
2:30 – 3:30 Mark Young – Genetic change in New Zealand Sheep: 2000 – 2015
Alongisde the various seminars and workshops, visitors can browse over 180 trade stands from all sectors of the industry at NSA North Sheep. Furthermore, 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.
Commenting on the range of topics covered in the seminars and workshops at NSA North Sheep, event organiser, Heather Stoney-Grayshon said: “Through a number of informative seminars and workshops, various industry professionals cover all areas and will advise farmers on how they can improve production and maximise output.
“There is so much uncertainty within the entire agricultural industry, and so it is even more important that farmers optimise every opportunity to future-proof their businesses.”
As an organisation, the National Sheep Association (NSA) represents 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.