14 May 1999

WATCH THE BEST AT WORK

As chairman of the south-east region of the National Sheep Association I warmly welcome you to South Sheep 99.

I make no apology for not having a theme to follow but I believe at present we are following the same avenue of stringent economy and marketing to make the most of the difficult times. Not only is the sheep industry facing problems but so is the whole of UK farming and indeed agriculture world wide.

The opportunity to visit Stephen Harts farm at Ipsden, is a magnificent chance to see top-class shepherding at work demonstrating the management and breeding programme of a closed flock which has led to the well known Hartline breed. Many of you will have visited Stephens farm before and this is an ideal opportunity for an update on its progress. It will be particularly interesting to view the approach that this farm is making towards the millennium and addressing the environmental concerns of Agenda 2000 reforms.

Stephen Hart has a lifetime passion for sheep and this has been rewarded in the numerous awards that he has received over the years – MLC Sheep Farmer of the Year 1997, UK Lowland Sheep Farmer of the Year 1982 and 1990, South East winner of the BGS/MLC Meat from Grass Award 1990.

I am delighted to say that about 80 trade and breed societies will be exhibiting and we are grateful for the support of these people in what are difficult economic times. These firms will be in place to gain as much from you as you are to gain from them, so please use this opportunity well. We look forward to meeting you.

Nigel Batts chairman,

South-east region

National Sheep Association