As I am writing this, my final report, the rain and wind are making their presence felt. Now, as I am writing this several weeks later, the story remains exactly the same!
The land is still so wet and everyone remains affected – some more than others. We can only hope that, as lambing time kicks in, the likes of Storm Clara and Storm Dennis will fast become a fading memory. But, I am not holding my breath!
The last two years have gone very fast. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as your chairman, going to events and shows, representing NEMSA, meeting people old and new to the society. We managed to have representation at all major shows and sheep events, including the Royal Welsh for the first time.
A big thank you to all who provided stock and freely gave of their time to help promote the breed; the committee have allocated funding to help with travelling for those representing NEMSA at these high profile shows and events.
Most of us had a good lambing, with plenty of lambs on the ground, a decent summer with good crops and keeping mostly dry for the sales, though unfortunately turning into a very wet winter. Sales started slowly, with buyers cautious, but did improve throughout the sale season and prices were up on the previous year’s averages.
I make no apology from repeating some of the key points I make in the agm press report, as they are important:
Encouraging the younger generation is essential for the industry and with this in mind we are trying to find the correct approach for college students and out breed to go forward together.
We are also having a new website designed and this should soon be ready. Social media is very important, too, and I ask you all to keep posting articles and pictures promoting the breed.
Promotional articles in different farming papers this last year have increased thanks to Robin and Wayne, giving us a greater presence in the farming press. Even Jeremy Clarkson has seen the light, buying North of England Mules at Thame.
The Association was approached to find a shepherd for lambing time, which is to be filmed for a tv programme. This is a great opportunity for us to gain more support and publicity for our commercial breeding sheep, which should not be missed.
Eventually, Brexit has happened, we have left Europe, but none of us knows what the outcome will be in the future. However, the finished lamb prices at the moment are good (or were at the time of writing), so let’s hope they are maintained.
I must again stress just how important it is to keep our standards up, to keep pushing the North of England Mule, improving the breed, staying at the top. I am sure more opportunities to this end will readily appear.
I must thank our sponsors, Shearwell Data and Animax, for their continued support, though it does, sadly, appear that after many years we will be losing the latter this year following the acquisition of the company by a new owner. Potential new sponsors please take note!
Thanks, too, to Presidents Randall Raine and Geoff Taylor, District Area Chairmen and their committees for their help and support over the last two years. Also, our Secretary Marion Hope, whose continuing hard work and efficiency was very much appreciated.
Very best wishes, too, to my successor as chairman, Chris Harrison, and the new vice chairman, Jonathan Hodgson. Both are North of England Mule aficionados through and through – and obviously made of stern stuff judged by their rugby playing prowess in earlier years! There is little doubt that our Association remains in strong and very safe hands.