"Collecting for charity? No its just to pay for my super-levy…"
"Collecting for charity? No its just to pay for my super-levy…"
Curtis Farms spring-calving beef herd was dispersed at Horsham, Sussex. In-calf cows sold to £1000, averaging £715. Heifers with Belgian Blue calves at foot peaked at £1370. The days top call went to a three-year-old Belgian Blue stock bull, which made £4200. Demand was also strong for the 119 units of suckler cow quota on offer, which sold for £123 to £125 a unit. Top machinery price was £22,700 for a 1989 Fendt 612LSA tractor. (South East Marts and Savills.)
Centralised greasing and auto chain lubrication are now available on all Hi-Spec Engineering MixMax complete diet feeders. The centralised greasing point is a standard fitting, and comprises a bank of seven nipples (above) from which are lubricated all main primary drive bearings and the front mixing rotor bearing. Priced at £380, the optional auto chain oiler drip feeds oil onto all drive chains.
Ramblers rip-off claims refuted
Claims from the Ramblers Association that the country stewardship scheme is a scandalous rip-off have been rebuffed by the Countryside Commission……………page 16
Under the skin
Parasite damage to skins costs the sheep industry £15m a year and its got worse since compulsory dipping stopped…………..page 39
Catch crop focus
Special focus on catch-cropping examines the value of spring-sown fodder crops for summer and autumn grazing………………………..page 45
How to boost profits? One way is to take replacements from within the suckler herd itself, says a leading scientist………………………..page 51
No-go spray zones?
Moves to introduce a list of pesticides which may not be sprayed within 6m of a watercourse have come under fire………………………..page 57
Up the sprout
Potato seed stored in warm stores during the autumn has broken dormancy earlier than usual……………………..page 67
Give it five…
Now a Dutch contractor is using a five-wheeled tractor to create more working days in the year………………page 71
Dont be too quick to pooh-pooh the lure of manure. Our special feature gives plenty of reasons to have truck with muck…………………….page 76
No Oscars but higher prices could be coming through to the forestry market as agents report an upturn in inquiries………………page 107
Kent farmer Gary Coomber is to sue an OP sheep dip maker. His doctor has said there is "quite strong evidence" that Mr Coombers heart complaint was caused by exposure to OP dip. See page 8 for details.
Planting at last! Maris Bard goes into a good seed-bed on J S Thurlbys Mill Lane Farm near Stamford, Lincs. Growers across the country took advantage of improved conditions last week to plant 10,500ha (25,950 acres), lifting the total area planted so far to 14,327ha (35,400 acres). While that matched the same week last year, it was well down on the more "usual" 40,000ha (100,000 acres) plus. A return to winter conditions this week put a temporary check on plantings. With mounting fears of another late start to the new crop, prices have continued to firm as growers have held back supplies. The average ex-farm price last week came to £278/t – up another £10 on the week and three times more than last year.
Most dairy farmers will probably be glad that today marks the end of the milk year; a year when the good news – higher milk prices – was almost smothered by the uncertainty and rancour accompanying deregulation.
Add in the spiralling cost of quota, the furore over calf exports, dodgy butterfat testing and rumours of black market milk, and you might conclude that things can only get better. But will they?
The only certainty for 1995-96 is that vesting day wont be repeated. So at least farmers wont be subjected to another round of industry egos battling for position. But any calm is likely to be short lived because there is no evidence to suggest that all the bitterness wont erupt again as soon as Milk Marque tries to sell another years supply.
Milk Marques credibility depends on delivering higher producer prices. But is it right to give with one hand and then, only five months later, threaten to take it away again? MMs chief executive Andrew Dare has already been preparing the ground, telling producers that prices certainly wont rise, and may well fall, as the turn of the century approaches.
Is he playing roulette? Price rises are pointless if they cant be sustained and, more importantly, if they damage the long-term prospects of the industry. Those who dismissed the warnings of factory closures cannot afford to dismiss the reality any longer. Processing plants have closed and more will follow if a sensible price compromise is not found.
Aside from milk prices there are other issues that need urgent attention. With more than 50% of the milk pool ending up in the fresh liquid market, the only market free from the threat of imports, producers need to look at generic advertising.
With doorstep deliveries falling, liquid milk sales increasingly depend on supermarkets. Milk, in this environment, has to compete with big-brand, heavily advertised, soft drinks. How can milk maintain its position, especially with younger generations, if its quality, freshness and goodness are no longer publicised? Dairy farmers must protect this market – and protection means financial support – because it is the backbone that supports producer prices.
Although advertising offers a chance for producers to seize the initiative, too often they are left to cope with problems totally outside their control. Butterfat testing is a prime example. The deregulated market brought an alternative test, the Roese-Gottleib method, to the Gerber method used by the Milk Marketing Board and then Milk Marque.
Immediately the two tests threw up different results for both butterfat and protein. With the Intervention Board struggling to provide accurate information on just how far ahead of quota the country was, another variable was the last thing producers needed.
It now looks increasingly likely that the IB and MAFF will insist that only one test should be allowed in future, and for political safety they will choose the Gerber method.
So, the new year wont be free from difficulties. Let us hope the politicians and industry leaders learn from last year and minimise the disruptions. What they must remember is that milk producers are the most important element in the cow-to-consumer chain.