NSA North Sheep 2023
NSA Welcomes thousands of Visitors and Defra’s Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme (FFCP)
Hailed as one of the most important sheep industry events of 2023, NSA North Sheep held at Bradford House Farm, Belsay, did not disappoint. With over 8,000 visitors, this was not only a showcase for the sheep industry, it was also a platform for much discussion and debate.
The event was opened by Phil Stocker, CEO of the National Sheep Association, in his opening ceremony speech Phil acknowledged how much pressure the industry has been under: “The recent unprecedented change has for so many been difficult to adapt to, but with that now behind us, we now need to look to the future and address how we are all going to progress with the new Government schemes on the table.”
For many of course, one of the highlights of the day was the farm tour. This presented a tremendous opportunity to view the Woodman’s 930-acre Bradford House Farm, a traditional Northumberland arable and livestock, including fields with Mule Ewes with Texel lambs, texel ewes with texel lambs, blackface ewes with mule lambs, blackface ewes with blackface lambs and blackie hoggs. Those on the tour we also given the opportunity to see some of the Woodman’s cattle which included Suckler cows and calves, 22 month old bullocks and heifers ready for market and fields of bull and heifer calves.
In attendance for the day was Janet Hughes Defra’s Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme . During her visit she had audiences with farmers throughout the day as Viv Lewis Chair of the NSA Northern Region & NSA North Sheep explains:
“We took this opportunity to make sure that Janet spoke to as many different sheep farmers as possible, young and old, lowland and upland, commercial and specialist. This enabled her to hear from the horses’ mouth the concerns and worries for the future and suggestions as to how Defra can make their schemes more appropriate and fit for purpose, for sheep farms of all types.
“Janet met with several next generation upland farmers, and she listened carefully and took their concerns and issues on board, and we hope that these comments will be considered, and translate into changes in policies going forward.”
The well attended seminar programme throughout the day included a YoungsRPS hosted seminar on Resilience to Change, explaining and discussing support schemes available under the UK Government’s post-Brexit policy. A seminar on Looking Beyond Our Shores which debated opportunities for exports and the pros and cons of working collaboratively with global sheep farming counterparts. Getting a foothold on The Sheep Farming Ladder, highlighted the urgent needs for additional support for those who want to commence a career in farming, post further education or their first careers and who are not necessarily from a farming background.
The results of Bradford House Farm’s carbon audit were presented in a dedicated presentation “Carbon - Understanding the Journey to Net Zero - The journey for farmers to a Net Zero future and turning the challenge to opportunity” Hosted by Brian Richardson, UK Head of Agriculture for Virgin Money and Simon Hayley, Director of Carbon Metrics. Concluding the carbon audit Willie Woodman reiterated that undergoing a carbon audit can often seem a daunting task, however he was keen to reiterate that for the Woodman farming enterprise not only have it given the m a focus, but that is has really set a benchmark. Willie thanked both Carbon Metrics and Virgin Money for their support and he has already taken many of their recommendations on board and is now working towards the ongoing reduction of the farm’s carbon footprint.
The next generation is the future for the industry and is hugely supported by the NSA. Many northern younger farmers took part in the Next Generation Shepherd Competition, kindly sponsored by Vickers & Barrass and Darlington Farmers’ Auction Mart. Winning the Ali Johnson Perpetual Trophy and achieving first place was Michael Hogg from Washington, Tyne & Wear. Second place was awarded to Ben Graham from Longwitton, and third to Oliver Dean from Brampton.
The trade show represented all sectors of the industry, from machinery and technology to genetics and breed societies. Prizes were awarded to indoor and outdoor trade stands, breeders and breed society stands as well as the Wool on the Hoof competition. The much-anticipated presentation of the trade stand award saw the following being accoladed:
Indoor Trade Stand
1st Hexham & Northern Marts
Outdoor Trade Stand
1st Carrs Billington
2nd J Hubbuck & Son
3rd H&H Group
1st TC Whiteford
2nd Logie Durno – Ingram Family
3rd MW & CM Ridley
1st Scottish Blackface Sheep Breeders Association
2nd The Jacob Sheep Society
3rd Lleyn Sheep Society
Wool on the Hoof
1st Teeswater Sheep Breeders Association
2nd Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders Association
3rd The Jacob Sheep Society
In concluding Viv summed up the fantastic day by saying, “The whole team has worked seamlessly. It’s been brilliant to see so many people at the event, getting to meet with people that in some cases we haven’t seen in quite some time, the buzz is fantastic. The Woodman’s family farm has of course been the highlight, it really is a tremendous farming enterprise with the most tremendous showcase of livestock.
“We all must look to the future of farming, and I saw Willie Woodman speaking about his farm’s Carbon Audit, and it was great to see him encouraging other farmers to undertake one.
“Finally, and most importantly I would like to reiterate a big thank you to everyone who has made today possible; the woodman family, the sponsors, committee volunteers and of course the thousands of people who have attended.”