Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sheep event

This week, the nation’s sheep farmers descended on Malvern for the 2014 Sheep Event at the Three Counties Showground.  Taking place against the backdrop of the stunning nearby Malvern Hills, the ongoing debate around lamb prices and the supermarkets’ role in the farmgate price were clearly front-of-mind for many.

EBLEX sector director Nick Allen took part in a panel seminar on the outlook for the sheep industry, with Charles Sercombe, NFU National Livestock Board chairman, and Phil Stocker, National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive.  It marked the launch of the inaugural Sheep Vision Report, a joint publication from the NFU and NSA that assesses the current state of the industry and where priorities lie moving forward.  Nick said he wanted to see more transparency in market information for farmers, something that was echoed by those in the audience, given the concerns raised during the question and answer session. 

Early questions focused on the difference between what supermarkets pay and what they charge for lamb. panel recognised that this was a frustration for farmers, and outlined the work being done to challenge it, but also the fact that supermarkets answer to their shareholders, and not the English agricultural industry.

The rest of the EBLEX team were in their usual spot in Avon Hall, with a range of interactive displays to share the latest industry information and research with visitors.  One of the most popular was Monarch of the Glen, a ram that had been painted with his Estimated Breeding Values (EBV), to help visitors understand the way and reason why EBVs are determined.

Other features on the stand included a cool wall, virtual programme, Signet scanning exhibition, liver fluke demonstration and a chiller unit with four carcases, which formed a carcase selection competition for the NSA that received over 100 entries.  There were also two pens of lambs, one for the national young shepherds’ competition and the other containing lambs for discussion.  The combination of features proved popular with visitors as the stand was packed-out all day and the Signet team received a record number of enquiries. 

The real reward for the team was when the judges announced that the EBLEX stand won the award for Best Indoor Trade Stand.  Katie Brian, EBLEX’s Better Return Programme project manager, was presented with the award and said: “It’s great to receive this award as it means the people who judge it, which are levy payers, like what we’re doing.”

If you couldn’t make it to Sheep Event 2014, be sure to check out our YouTube channel, EBLEX TV, as a host of short informative films from the show will soon be available.

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