BBC Countryfile presenter to lead debate NSA Sheep 2014

Broadcaster Tom Heap will chair a discussion on balancing supply of meat with environmental concerns.

Tom Heap, Chairing NSA Big debate

BBC Countryfile’s Tom Heap will be leading this year’s Big Debate at the sheep industry’s national event, NSA Sheep 2014.

The environment and rural affairs broadcaster will chair the panel and debate on Balancing red meat supply with environmental impact.

A highly topical and divisive subject, it will examine how to promote the importance of producing red meat, particularly in the uplands, rather than seeing sheep as the enemy to the environment.

The panel consists of NSA chief executive Phil Stocker; Alan Alderson, Cumbrian farmer and chairman of Swaledale Sheep Breeders’ Association; Philip Walling, author of Counting Sheep; Andrew Walker of Yorkshire Water; and Dr Pat Thompson of the RSPB.

Mr Stocker said: “With a panel representing all angles of the debate and plenty of time for questions and discussion, I see this session as a unique opportunity for NSA Sheep Event visitors.

“It is a chance for producers and those involved in the industry to have their say and to promote the value of sheep in the uplands in providing high quality meat, working in tandem with the environment, maintaining the landscape and sustaining rural communities,” he notes.

Mr Walling believes that discussions like this are essential for the industry: “Farmers are all too often portrayed as being in league with the devil, and their crucial work in producing food and maintaining the natural world misunderstood.

“This kind of topical debate is important to encourage people to consider what the land is really for, and to appreciate the skill, hard work and intelligence behind its management,” he says.

Securing a future for the sheep industry is the overarching theme of NSA Sheep 2014. In support of this Robert Addison, managing director of Hexham and Northern Marts, will be one of the speakers at an seminar entitled Young blood needed to sustain the future of the sheep industry.

He will be joined NSA communications manager Joanne Briggs; Jonathan Barber of the NSA Next Generation steering group; NSA Ambassadors Andrew Prentice, James Hamilton and Kate Robinson; Kevin Harrison, NSA Marches region chairman; and Oliver McEntyre, Barclays Bank.

NSA Sheep 2014 will be held on Wednesday, July 30 at The Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire.

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