23 August 2002

ALLRALLYROUNDINOUR CAMPAIGNTOENSURESCHOOLMILKMATTERS

When it comes to promoting milk, British children have got a lotta bottle. Thats obvious from the inspired entries in our Farmlife School Milk Matters art competition.

Our offices were deluged with entries for the competition – part of our campaign to promote free and subsidised school milk before National School Milk Week which begins on Oct 7.

Although all children up to the age of 11 are entitled to subsidised milk, and nursery children receive it free, little more than 15% are able to enjoy it. So, we asked you help to make sure more milk is available in the nations classrooms.

We suggested that you displayed one of our FARMERS WEEKLY School Milk Matters posters and sent one of our Milk Matters Fact Sheets to your local school, doctors or dentists surgery.

Hundreds of people throughout the country have contacted FARMERS WEEKLY and our web-site FARMERS WEEKLY Interactive to request thousands of posters.

All credit to those who have helped. But theres more to be done. If all nursery and school children enjoyed the milk they are entitled to, demand would rise by 140m litres a year. The extra amount of subsidised milk unclaimed by local authorities has a farm gate value of £22.5m.

And encouraging children to enjoy milk will boost their consumption in later life and save on health and dentistry costs.

With all the problems besetting dairy farming, not least the Amelca tragedy, the milk sector needs all the support it can get. Lets join together for another big push to promote milk in our schools. FARMERS WEEKLY and Dairy Crest have £2000 worth of prize money to give away to individuals and groups who have excelled in the promotion of school milk.

So, how can you help put a lotta more bottle back into British schools?

Amelca ambitions come to nothing

News that Amelca, the fledgling farmer-backed dairy business, has called in the receiver has driven men and women to tears. Farmers who have invested thousands of £s in a brave new venture, determined to reap the rewards of processing their own milk.

It was an ambitious project. A state-of-the-art factory does not come cheaply. But it had a robust business plan, which won many admirers including DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett and NFU president, Ben Gill.

Delays dogged progress and hit cash flow. But why did the bank pull the plug just as the business had found a home for all its liquid milk next month and had secured a big cheese order?

Farmers are told that they must invest to secure better returns from the food chain. Many may now think otherwise.

How you can push up animal profitability

Fancy adding an extra £2 or £3 for each animal sold? Those premiums are being achieved by several producers who sell store lambs and finished beef, lambs and pigs.

Although there is no single blueprint to allow everyone to match their achievement, the first steps are knowing the market you are supplying and the specification required.

After focusing on those targets, explain producers in our Livestock Section, it becomes apparent what cost-effective changes should be made to breeding, feeding or management strategy. And that helps to deliver products with premium prices.

Chance to acquire business skills

Its a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn skills which could change your business and your life. The Worshipful Company of Farmers is offering one lucky FARMERS WEEKLY reader a sponsored place on one of its Advanced Agricultural Business Management courses.

The course, which takes place at Imperial College, Wye, will equip you with a host of the skills needed for the years ahead. Everything from negotiation techniques to environmental issues will be covered on this three-week course, which takes place early next year.

More than 900 managers have graduated since the course began in 1963. Many have become leaders of agriculture and its ancillary industries. Enter our competition (page 13), and you could take your place among them.

Range of farming courses widened

Its a changing industry. Never before have farmers looked so hard for ways of diversifying their businesses into more profitable areas.

But acquiring new skills requires knowledge – if only to discover whether a project can grow into a viable business. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of courses covering many aspects of farm diversification and countryside management matters.

And now they are recognised by a new range of BTEC qualifications. Its a great opportunity to help put new business ideas into practice.

Cash helping hand is big relief for many

Every penny counts when times are tough. So were delighted that more than £120,000 has already been given away through the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution/FARMERS WEEKLY Grant Scheme.

This ground-breaking initiative offers farming families a helping hand with household bills and other domestic expenses.

More money will be given away over the coming weeks. If you think you could benefit see our Farmlife Section. Applying for a grant is simple, confidential and could make all the difference.

Beet growers jittery over factory record

Since only six British Sugar factories are left to process the whole of the UK sugar beet crop, plenty of fingers will be crossed this autumn. Everyone hopes that the filtration problems experienced by the companys flagship Wissington plant last campaign will not be repeated.

We understand British Sugars need to streamline its operations in order to remain competitive.

But that must go hand in hand with enough research and investment to ensure producers do not suffer unduly when things go wrong through no fault of their own.