WITH significant changes to agriculture imminent, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is today (Thursday 31st October) launching a ‘Business Readiness Toolkit’ to help UK sheep farmers ensure they’re prepared for changes in the coming months and years and help improve their businesses for the future.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “NSA has long been aware our exit from the EU will result in significant change that will affect sheep farming. This is likely to be seen in trade patterns and markets, but also in the way that Government and society is prepared to support agriculture following our departure from the EU Common Agriculture Policy.

“Our Government, and devolved administrations, have an ambitious vision for British farming enterprises to become more profitable and productive, to further improve environmental conditions in their widest sense, and to continue to raise our standards of production particularly in the areas of the environment and animal welfare. This ambition is generally shared by all our main political parties and is unlikely to be affected by any future changes in Government.”

To help farmers deal with and adapt to these changes, NSA has developed a toolkit packed with guidance and advice as well as case studies highlighting farms where particular practices have worked well. Mr Stocker continues: “At NSA we are confident the future holds real opportunities in the marketplace, and that our industries approach to multi-functional land use and sustainable land management will be recognised as beneficial by policymakers and the majority of the public. But we also know the change of the order we could see will bring disruption and uncertainty for many.

“We want to see every sheep farmer given the best opportunity to succeed and continue if that is what they wish for, and we also want to see clear opportunities for our next generation of sheep farmers to come in and be properly rewarded. I hope this toolkit is a good start to help NSA members, neighbours and colleagues start to prepare for the future, and you can be sure all NSA’s work over the coming years will remain focussed on securing our crucial role as food producers, land managers, and potentially deliverers of an even broader range of valued outputs.”

The toolkit covers seven different topics, which NSA says will be crucial for farmers to consider, including preparing mindset and mental health, assessing your businesses current working and thinking about future income streams. Mr Stocker explains: “The toolkit has a farmer case study for each topic as well as a podcast from an expert in that area. The online version carries links to various other agricultural organisations with further advice and information. NSA has posted a printed copy to every member, but non-members are invited to access the online version or contact NSA Head Office for a copy of the printed version.”

Notes to editors:-

• The toolkit is available at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/brexittoolkit/

• For more information, contact Eleanor Phipps, NSA Policy Officer, on 01684 892661 or eleanor@nationalsheep.org.uk.

• The National Sheep Association is an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. It is funded by its membership of sheep farmers and its activities involve it in every aspect of the sheep industry. More at www.nationalsheep.org.uk and www.nsanextgeneration.org.uk.

• The Toolkit was produced using financial support made available by the Government (through the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s ‘Business readiness fund’), to help farmers consider the changes ahead, think through their options and make use of a vast amount of information and support available to our industry. NSA is grateful to a large number of individuals who have enthusiastically contributed by providing case studies and podcasts outlining how they have approached change or dealt with challenging situations.