The importance of maintaining strong links between the National Sheep Association and those working in the pedigree breeding world has been emphasised at an event hosted by the organisation.
Having moved around the country since its inception in 2012, the NSA Breed Society Forum was held this year at Edenhall in Penrith, Cumbria.
NSA chairman Samuel Wharry, who travelled from his home in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, for the event, stressed to breed society representatives that their involvement was highly valued.
The importance of keeping lines of communication open was also emphasised.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker picked up on the theme by discussing and inviting comment on several areas of the association’s current policy work.
Topics included the drive to relax carcase splitting rules and opposition tho reintroducing the lynx to the UK.
Internal matters, such as refreshing the NSA’s Articles of Association and moves to a voting system applicable to NSA-affiliated breed societies, were also discussed.
Mr Stocker said: “NSA-affiliated breed societies who attend the forum always provide us with very positive feedback, and this year’s event was no exception.
“The forum was created in 2012 when the NSA saw some fundamental changes to its structure, and while many societies felt our initial attempt to have two forums a year was too much, there is so much activity going on within NSA and in the pedigree sheep farming world that we are willing to organise twice-yearly meetings if there is demand.
“Two-way communication between us and breed societies is of utmost importance to NSA, not just through the annual forum but also an open invitation for society representatives to sit on NSA regional committees.
“NSA is proud to be a grassroots organisation and is dedicated to ensuring the views of both pedigree and commercial farmers can come to us through as many different communication channels as possible.”
The event also featured a farm tour around Messrs Jenkinson’s Whinfell Park as well as well-received talks from two guest speakers.
David Hall of Eblex presented a largely positive report on the sheep meat market, while Dr Amanda Carson offered insights both as Secretary of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association and a committee member of Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR).
Mr Stocker added: “Amanda also provided the clearest and most applicable explanation of the EU’s zootechnical regulations that I have ever heard.
“NSA has 80 affiliated sheep breed societies and associations, but currently only 36 are recognised by Defra under these EU rules. While it is not mandatory for societies to be recognised,
“I feel we all now better understand why this is and the advantages and disadvantages of it.
“NSA will share a detailed report from the forum, including the discussion on zootechnical regulations, to ensure affiliated societies who were not able to attend are kept informed.”