OVER 100 young sheep farmers from across the UK flocked to attend two National Sheep Association 'Next Generation' events held last week in Somerset and Cumbria.

The annual winter conference came at a critical time for the industry with much needed positive messages in the hope of giving the future of sheep farming a boost.

NSA communications officer Katie James was involved with putting the conferences together: “The NSA Next Generation Winter Conference is always a popular event and this year was no exception with young farmers and students joining us from far afield. As always, we were very lucky to be joined by some excellent speakers offering targeted advice for those younger people involved in the industry as well as NSA Next Generation Ambassadors delivering information to attendees on how they add value to their farming enterprises in different ways.”

Other speakers included local sheep vets, land agents, the Moredun research institute and representatives from the Farming Community Network to highlight to attendees the importance of looking after themselves, as well as their sheep.

The annual winter conference is just one of the activities offered by NSA Next Generation. This year has seen new additions to the programme, including a travel bursary and a future trip to Westminster for those interested in agricultural policy. The programme is funded entirely by NSA, NSA regions and NSA ram sales and events such as those held last week are done so with the wider support of the agricultural sector.

Mrs James continued: “Most of those joining us at the events are just starting out in their careers at a time of uncertainty for the industry but despite this they were motivated and confident of a successful future in their chosen career as shepherds or as those working in the allied industries. This positivity is exactly what is needed at this time.”

Further information on the NSA Next Generation programme can be found at www.nationalsheep.org.uk/next-generation