19 June 1998

ACCS needed to avoid rash of schemes

THE Assured Combinable Crops Scheme is essential to protect growers from a rash of competing assurance schemes, says the NFU.

"ACCS has done a major service for farmers in England and Wales," says cereals committee chairman and ACCS board member David Butler. "Without it we could have had a major confusion of schemes from buyers. A number were well on the way to devising their own."

With ACCS in place the industry can now work towards one whole farm scheme. That will mean one inspection to encompass ACCS, Assured Produce, Farm Assured British Pigs and Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb, says Mr Butler.

But developing such a scheme will be a slow process with a big price tag, he acknowledges.

Leverage over buyers

Mark Hill, of financial specialist Deloitte and Touche, says standardised assurance schemes give farmers leverage over buyers. "When you standardise schemes, you immediately give power to farmers, because there is no way buyers can differentiate between them."

The NFUs Peter Limb describes ACCS as an important weapon in the battle to defend world markets.

"Australian producers are developing one scheme to stop a plethora of competing schemes. Its organisers expect that by next year half the Australian wheat harvest will be assured. That will compete with UK exports in Far Eastern markets." &#42