UK - The National Sheep Association (NSA) has released a special report to raise awareness of the "complex jigsaw" of public services provided by sheep farming in hill and upland areas.
Published in response to criticisms from some conservationists, the report highlights roles such as food production, environmental stewardship, landscape management and cultural heritage.
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, explains: “NSA has produced the report because this sector, that is so traditional yet still acts as a cornerstone of much of the modern UK sheep industry, continues to come under threat from many quarters.
"Much of this is due to misguided policy direction and a lack of understanding of the many ‘by products’ of upland sheep farming. These public goods go beyond its core agricultural outputs of food and wool; they include its foundation of fragile rural economies and communities, its creation and maintenance of landscapes and environments, and its contribution to tradition and heritage.
“All of this adds to our ecosystems and our sense of enjoyment and wellbeing, yet is rarely recognised or valued. Our aim is to convince decision makers of the unique contribution upland sheep farming provides and also to set some challenges to the industry itself by offering a strategic direction that should safeguard its future.”
NSA said it believes the timing of this report is crucial, given the difficult decisions needing to be made over the future of agricultural support once the UK leaves Europe.
Mr Stocker continues: “This report will form the basis of many of the conversations we have over the coming months, as it is important the hills and uplands, home to some of the most iconic landscapes in the UK, are not forgotten in the Brexit discussions. There has never been a more important time to understand the tri-fold contribution of economic, environmental and societal benefits.”
You can view the full report by clicking here.
TheSheepSite News Desk