Young people looking to get involved in the sheep industry now have the support they need, thanks to a new national initiative.

Speaking at the launch of the NSA Young Entrants initiative at Sheep 2012, the NSA’s Jonathan Barber said the programme was probably the most important the association had ever launched.

“The idea is that the NSA becomes a one-stop shop for anything any new entrant needs to know,” he said.

The scheme has a number of objectives, including highlighting opportunities to young entrants, improving communication and engagement between young entrants and showcasing to a wider audience the technology and innovations of the industry.”

The initiative is being supported by a number of key industry bodies, including Dunbia, Vion and EBLEX.

Nick Davies from Dunbia said: “From my days as a shepherd, I know this is something the industry needs. The skill base, practical advice and shear range of knowledge in this group is key to the success of the industry.

“Young entrants need the support to make informed choices.”

Peter Morris of Vion agreed: “We all owe our success to someone giving us a chance and this organisation will help give young entrants a chance.

“In support of the initiative, Vion will offer stock selection days and allow farmers to follow through their stock from live to dead. This is the best way for people to understand the linkages through the supply chain.”

In support of the programme, young sheep producer Rob Hodgkins, of the Wairere Flock, Locks Farm, West Sussex, stressed it was time to start investing in the industry.

“There are lots of exciting things in the sheep industry, from precision farming to genetics.

“Ten to 15 years ago sheep farming was not something you wanted to shout about – farmers were the bad guys. Now it is the other way – there is a huge amount of interest in farming and the sector has a positive message to tell.”

Mr Hodgkins himself recognised the opportunities within the sector, having left a paid job in engineering to return to the family farm.

He said the Young Entrants Initiative offered a valuable opportunity for young heads to get together to discuss so many exciting and innovative ideas for the industry.

For more on the NSA Sheep 2012 event

Go to our Sheep 2012 page