As the new year begins the National Sheep Association (NSA) is looking ahead at its overarching priorities, setting out a series of commitments for 2022 to ensure security and success for the industry it works hard to protect.

With 2022 set to offer some real opportunities for UK sheep farming but some equally impactful threats, NSA chief executive Phil Stocker explained the association’s focus for the year ahead and is keen to give emphasis to the role the farmer has to play.

He said: “NSA will, of course, continue to work in all topics relating to sheep farming in 2022, but I feel strongly that the coming year needs a focus on sheep farmers themselves.

“If the industry is performing well then it gives a great foundation for the happiness and wellbeing of the people involved.

People are the lifeblood, not just of our sheep industry but also of our rural and livestock farming communities.

The NSA is committed to putting people at the centre of all it does – sheep farmers, shepherds, and new entrants in their many guises.

We are still lacking a vision from the government and other leadership bodies, but my vision is that we want more people involved in sheep farming at the end of this year, not less.

The national flock

"I have no interest in our industry ending up with half as many sheep farmers keeping the same size national flock and I want to see our industry continuing to provide an accessible first step on the farming ladder for young people and new entrants," he added.

Our market structures and policies need to recognise the value of a very ‘human’ sector of farming with a high level of independence. To lose our social capital would be a massive own goal

Stocker concluded: “It is customary at this time of year to set resolutions and in addition to NSA’s overriding objective above, I’ve prioritised eight other resolutions and commitments from NSA – commitments and detail you’ll hear more about as the year progresses”