‘Time to focus on the sheep farmers and shepherds’, says National Sheep Association, as it sets out commitments for 2022

4th January 2022

As the new year begins the National Sheep Association (NSA) is looking ahead at its overarching priorities, setting out a series of commitments for 2022 to ensure security and success for the industry it works hard to protect.

With 2022 set to offer some real opportunities for UK sheep farming but some equally impactful threats, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker explains the Association’s focus for the year ahead and is keen to give emphasis to the role the farmer has to play. He says: “NSA will, of course, continue to work in all topics relating to sheep farming in 2022, but I feel strongly that the coming year needs a focus on sheep farmers themselves.

“If the industry is performing well then it gives a great foundation for the happiness and wellbeing of the people involved. People are the lifeblood, not just of our sheep industry but also of our rural and livestock farming communities. NSA is committed to putting people at the centre of all it does – sheep farmers, shepherds, and new entrants in their many guises. We are still lacking a vision from the Government and other leadership bodies, but my vision is that we want more people involved in sheep farming at the end of this year, not less. I have no interest in our industry ending up with half as many sheep farmers keeping the same size national flock and I want to see our industry continuing to provide an accessible first step on the farming ladder for young people and new entrants. Our market structures and policies need to recognise the value of a very ‘human’ sector of farming with a high level of independence. To lose our social capital would be a massive own goal”.

Mr Stocker continues: “It is customary at this time of year to set resolutions and in addition to NSA’s overriding objective above, I’ve prioritised eight other resolutions and commitments from NSA – commitments and detail you’ll hear more about as the year progresses”

NSA’s commitments for 2022 are:

  1. Work to ensure the UK hospitality sector improves its loyalty to sourcing of UK produced lamb.
  2. Work to raise the profile of UK lamb and mutton and wool as a meat/fibre of choice, and support domestic retailers to maintain loyalty to UK sourcing.
  3. Support efforts to get UK lamb into the US and other export destinations– particularly at premium level.
  4. Continue to make an asset of the UK’s sheep breed and product diversity through NSA’s British Heritage Sheep and continue to support British Wool in its efforts to add value and develop provenance.
  5. Continue to work on sustainability measurements to raise the reputation of sheep farming.
  6. In England specifically, to ensure sheep farmers have the opportunity to replace BPS reductions through the transition to payment for public goods and other publicly funded incentives.
  7. Continue to work in partnership with others to improve sheep health and disease control in a practical way. To encourage responsible vet medicine use and to guide future traceability services and policy. 
  8. Continue to develop the Register of Sheep Advisors, in order to support sheep farmers seeking advice through changing times.

More information on the work of NSA can be found on the Association’s website www.nationalsheep.org.uk. NSA relies on membership subscriptions and donations to fund its important work providing a voice for the UK sheep sector. For more information on how you too can support this work please visit www.nationalsheep.org.uk/membership.