Over the last few months in Northern Ireland it has been difficult to influence local politicians on the needs of the sheep sector in the coming years as they have been involved in an election and now a spat amongst themselves as to what each considers to be their priorities.
At present, there seems to be no room on agendas to talk about the best way forward for agriculture in Northern Ireland and we may well end up being back in a position of direct rule.
The UK chairman of NSA is currently Carnlough sheep farmer Samuel Wharry and along with NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker they have had several meetings with both Andrea Leadsom and George Eustice keeping them informed of the needs and benefits of a thriving sheep industry. NSA is divided into nine UK regions and all regions have been consulted on their requirements on the way forward. These views have been discussed and an NSA policy put together to satisfy all the regions including Northern Ireland.
Both the Secretary of State for Food & Rural Affairs and the Minister for Agriculture are well aware of the needs of the sheep sector but the question is where these needs are in the pecking order on the list going into Brexit negotiations.
NSA is in regular contact with government officials and further meetings are being organised to keep reminding them of the value of the sheep industry, not only monetary but socially and environmentally.
On the local front the N.I. Regional Committee are busy organising The NSA Sheep Centre at the RUAS Balmoral Show in May and their own NSA SheepNI Event to be held in Ballymena Livestock Market in July when all, members and non-members are welcome.