North East farmers are urged to take advantage of sessions on new database

The National Sheep Association is holding meetings in Hexham and Milnthorpe, Cumbria, about changes to livestock movement reporting

The NSA says sheep can't be blamed for natural disasters
The NSA is running a series of six meetings

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is running a series of six meetings – including two in the North – looking at the forthcoming changes to paper and electronic reporting for sheep farmers.

From April 1, farmers will be able to choose to record livestock movements electronically using a new database, provided for Defra by the Irish company SouthWestern.

NSA has teamed up with SouthWestern to offer farmers the chance to ask the system’s provider questions and find out more about the database from the people behind it. The meetings are free and open to NSA members and non-members.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker says: “Given the pressures on SouthWestern to deliver the database by April 1, we are really pleased they’ve made the time to join us for these meetings and provide farmers in England with much-needed information for the future.

“SouthWestern are not doing many farmer-facing meetings so I would urge all sheep farmers to join us.

“The implementation of the database has meant some unpopular decisions have been made by Defra, including the removal of the non-electronic slaughter tag from January 1, 2015, but these meetings are not to debate the pros and cons of electronic identification but to give farmers the information they need to understand the changes coming in.

“A paper-based system will remain in place for farmers who are not enthusiastic about reporting movements using a computer, but I would encourage these people to attend a meeting too, so they understand the changes to both the online and paper reporting methods and how they can move from paper to electronic in the future even if they do not want to straight away.”

For farmers in the North East and Cumbria, two meetings are being held on Wednesday, March 5 – 1pm at J36 Rural Auction Centre, Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7FP; and 7.30pm at Hexham Auction Market, Tyne Green, Hexham, NE46 3SG.

Booking is not essential, but for catering reasons NSA would appreciate attendees calling 01684 892661 or emailing charlotte@nationalsheep.org.uk with your name and the meeting you wish to attend.

The NSA’s Northern region is holding its annual meeting at Hexham Mart next Thursday at 7.30pm, followed by an open meeting at 8pm.

Guest speakers are chief executive Phil Stocker and vice-president David Raine, a Cumbrian farmer, who will give a presentation on the cross-industry visit to New Zealand last autumn.

Also speaking are Tom Carrick and James Raine who will give a short report on their sponsored trip to the Northern Farming conference last November.

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