2 April 1999

Arable rotation stays the same

NORTHUMBERLAND producer Ian Brown says he has no plans to change his arable rotation in light of CAP reforms.

But the Agenda 2000 package has hastened his decision to convert some land to organic production.

With 10% set-aside due to continue for the next three years, Mr Brown, Lea Moor Farm, Rennington, near Alnwick, intends to use this period to cover the first three years of organic conversion of some 12.14ha (30 acres).

And, with an organic bakery firm taking over a redundant building at the farm, he anticipates there will be an increasing market for organic output from the predominantly wheat growing unit.

Mr Brown believes the cut in cereal support agreed in the Agenda 2000 package may never happen. "When we had the 1992 reforms, everyone presumed cereal prices would fall, but they went up. Now we have a similar situation. World commodity prices can only go in one direction from where they are now – and that is up."

This optimism, however, will not stop Mr Brown seeking to reduce his overhead costs. Machinery sharing with a neighbour is one option under consideration.