It’s rare for news about a sheep to make the national headlines and even reach the red tops! A Texel tup (ram) made a world record-breaking price of £368,000 at the recent Kelso Ram Sale.
Purchased by a syndicate of three breeders it sounds more like buying a racehorse – the tup is rated with an index in the top 1% of the breed. To pay such a sum for an animal less than a year old, I hope he lives up to his name of Double Diamond. Some of us are old enough to remember the beer of the same name and the slogan ‘a double diamond works wonders!’.
Crucial time of year for sheep industry
Such a trade is a wonderful boost for the Texel Breed Society but I have concerns that it may give the impression to the general public that every sheep is worth a fortune, which is far from the case. We are moving into a crucial time of year for the sheep industry as the major breeding sales begin in earnest. As part of the stratification of the British sheep industry, our upland farmers produce the breeding stock which migrate to the lowlands to be crossed with a terminal sire for meat production. For our hill boys the autumn sales are often their biggest income, so hugely important.
On-going trade negotiations are very relevant
Our ability to export sheep meat and our UK/EU trade is critical, so the on-going trade negotiations are very relevant to the sector. Latest data from HMRC shows the UK exports of fresh and frozen sheep meat grew by 3% year-on-year in Jine while imports fell 16%. Despite the growth in June, exports for the first six months of 2020 were down 13% year-on-year at 38,600 tonnes. France fell by 2,900tonnes and Germany 3,500tonnes. Probably not unexpected due to recent problems we have all faced.
This time last year, many were very vocal about the prospects of leaving the EU with no deal. Today, I don’t think no deal would be as bad but it would be disruptive, but then a deal could also be disruptive. Border checks and additional certification will cost time and money. WTO tariffs could apply across the board, how will the UK Government Global Tariff which applies from January 1st, 2021 affect us, will we have quotas? Many questions will need answers.
Love Lamb Week
The humble sheep is economically and environmentally important across the whole of the UK. This week is ‘Love Lamb Week’, please show your support in your shopping basket!
By Ian Bell, Head of Farming & Rural Engagement
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