THE National Sheep Association (NSA) welcomed the Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Victoria Prentis MP as guest speaker at the first of its new Breakfast Club webinars on Wednesday.

Joining NSA chief executive Phil Stocker and NSA chairman Bryan Griffiths, Minister Prentis engaged with a large online audience discussing the current challenges faced by the UK sheep sector.

The debate kicked off with an overview of the situation the sector finds itself in today, covering issues with export health certificates, lack of facilities at border control points for live animal movements, contentious challenges with the Northern Ireland Protocol and the overburdening of bureaucracy and paperwork associated with exports since January 1.

Mr Stocker said: “We were very pleased to be joined by Victoria Prentis for the first of our Breakfast Club webinars and thanks must go to her for giving us her time."

On the topic of the Minister’s vision for future farming and payments for public goods, with a focus on the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), Mr Stocker stressed the importance of recognition for early adopters of the new schemes.

He said: “With sheep farming already being intrinsically beneficial for the environment, biodiversity, soil health, carbon storage etc, many of the proposed schemes seem to benefit more intensive systems which are looking to switch towards being extensive.

"Many of our nation’s sheep farmers are already farming in a manner that meets many of the schemes’ requirements."

The NSA said that Ms Prentis showed support in the webinar for the view that sheep farming is already working harmoniously with nature, producing high-value quality product that needs to be rewarded accordingly so we hope this early recognition will be given.

Mr stocker concluded: “This was a very positive meeting with the Minister expressing a willingness to continue work with our industry to get it right.

“This was the first of our Breakfast clubs and, pleasingly, our most successful NSA webinar to date."

NSA hosts its next webinar on Wednesday, January 27, at 8.30am, entitled 'NSA Breakfast Club – Going It Alone: an early morning debate about future trade of UK sheep meat’.

Joining NSA for the webinar will be AHDB International Market Development Director Phil Hadley providing an overview of recent market activity, Farmers First Director Mike Gooding discussing how to create opportunities for UK sheep trade while ensuring standards are maintained, and European Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Ben O’Brien, providing an insight on how New Zealand has built its successful lamb export market.

Interested parties wishing to register for the Breakfast Club webinars or find out more should visit the NSA website or to register to join the next meeting on Wednesday, January 27, at 8.30am, visit

For more information, email