NSA South West Annual Report - Chairman's comments

11th April 2012

2011 started with an air of optimism surrounding the sheep sector, but we have all learnt not to count our chickens, as there always seems to be something that comes along to wipe the smiles off our faces. Luckily 2011 didn’t spring any surprises on us and trade remained strong throughout the year.

During my time representing the South West at NSA meetings I didn’t think I would see the emergence of a new disease to threaten livestock in the UK, let alone two. Let’s hope Schmallenberg goes the way of bluetongue and doesn’t threaten the South West too much.

Meetings at national level, which both Robert and I have attended, have been dominated by the restructuring of the NSA - at times these have appeared boring and quite a long way removed from sheep farming, however it does see the biggest change in how the NSA works for a generation. On a positive note it does mean that feedback from the regions should get where it needs to go faster.

This was compounded by the decision by Peter Morris to resign as CEO, meaning the hunt was on for a replacement. In Phil Stocker I think the NSA has found someone capable of taking the NSA to new heights. Good luck to him and Peter in their new roles.

Here in the South West we have had another year with a packed calendar of events, something that some other regions are jealous of. Watch Sue’s reports in the Sheep Farmer to see what we have been up to, but these include a stand at the Royal Cornwall Show, a farm walk at Porlock, a halal and smokies presentation, a farm costings meeting and a sheep night with Phil Stocker and representatives from the trade. We have also had some joint meetings with the South East region to enable our members from the east of our region to attend.

The highlight of the year was the biennial Sheep South West event. This is the fundraising event which enables our region to function as we are totally self-sufficient. We went to Stantor Barton, Paignton and had a very successful day - thanks to the Palk family and all those who helped on the day to make it a success.

Over the last four years I have very much enjoyed representing the South West region at national NSA meetings both as Vice Chairman and Chairman.  I have met so many interesting people and gone to places that I have never been before. Although I should do another year I feel with the new NSA structure starting this January that now is the time for a new Chairman to take over.

Many thanks as ever to Robert in supporting me at meetings and good luck to him as Chairman. I would also like to thank our families who are at home doing the work when we are at meetings, and also for their patience when the phone is ringing late into the night.