Archive Article: 1999/10/08 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1999/10/08

8 October 1999

Justify ban or

else, France told

By Philip Clarke

FRANCE has been given until today (Friday) to come up with a scientific justification for continuing its ban on British beef, or face the possibility of legal action by the EU Commission.

In a letter to the French government on Tuesday, consumer protection commissioner, David Byrne, demanded a detailed explanation of its action by the end of the week.

If there was any new scientific evidence, then that would be passed to the standing scientific committee for examination. If not, then France should lift the ban immediately, said the letter.

Nothing new

Addressing Euro-MPs in Strasbourg, Mr Byrne later said that, on the basis of preliminary advice, the French authorities had no new evidence.

So far Brussels is playing down the possibility of legal action, as it tries for a diplomatic solution. "We are taking it step by step," said a spokesman. The time involved in pursuing infringement proceedings – which could result in fines on the French and compensation to the UK – makes this a last resort. But if all else fails, then legal action will be initiated.

The decision by France to maintain its blockade followed a report from the countrys recently-formed food safety agency, which concluded that, "given current scientific knowledge, the risk of Britain exporting meat from infected animals cannot be ruled out".

But this has been rubbished by the Meat and Livestock Commission. "The report is based on numerous false assumptions about the incidence of BSE and the requirements of the date-based scheme," said head of export marketing, Terry Lee.

He put the loss of beef sales to France at about £250m a year. More importantly, a separate ban on the transport of British beef on French roads was preventing the UK re-establishing trade links with Spain and Italy, which between them had taken £100m of prime beef in 1995 – the year before the BSE crisis struck.

"I cannot tell you how angry I am, and how difficult it will be to stop counter action against the French, especially at the ports, by farmers whose livelihoods are on the line," said Mr Lee.

"The French governments decision…is no more than a barefaced attempt to protect French markets. If it is allowed to continue, the very foundation of European law and order must be in question," he added.

Most organisations urged consumers to boycott French goods.

UK farm minister, Nick Brown, this week admitted he was avoiding French produce, but advised against tit-for-tat trade embargoes. A MAFF spokesman added that separate legal action by the UK against France was unlikely for now, as that was commissions responsibility.

Despite the mounting pressure, prospects of a swift solution seem remote. French agriculture minister, Jean Glavany, this week denied his countrys actions were in any way protectionist, but it could not ignore the advice of its own scientists. And he pointed to Germany, which also continues to ban sales of British beef.

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Archive Article: 1999/10/08

8 October 1999

In for the long-term… Stuart Buckland, a former county council smallholder who runs 120 Holsteins, seized his chance of a rare 20-year farm business tenancy offered by the Crown Estate. He beat over 40 other candidates to secure the modern 221ha (547 acre) dairy and arable unit at Old Park Farm, near Blandford, Dorset with a tender of over £100/acre. "Dairying is a long-term business. I wouldnt have moved from a retirement tenancy to a five-year tenancy," he says.

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Archive Article: 1999/10/08

8 October 1999

Just vote Yes in milk advertising poll

When youve got a world-beating product, it pays to tell people. Never is that more true than when the price of your product is much less than it should be and a range of middle men are determined to take more than their fair share.

For those reasons, producers who want to safeguard their profitability and the future of UK milk production should vote Yes for a national advertising campaign.

Each year nearly £100m is lost to the industry as consumption falls. You could help reverse that worrying trend by simply supporting the forthcoming poll to be conducted by MAFF.

So dig out your voting form and returning it by Oct 15. That could be a small step on the long-term road to returning the milk industry to profitable production.

Just vote Yes in milk advertising poll

When youve got a world-beating product, it pays to tell people. Never is that more true than when the price of your product is much less than it should be and a range of middle men are determined to take more than their fair share.

For those reasons, producers who want to safeguard their profitability and the future of UK milk production should vote Yes for a national advertising campaign.

Each year nearly £100m is lost to the industry as consumption falls. You could help reverse that worrying trend by simply supporting the forthcoming poll to be conducted by MAFF.

So dig out your voting form and returning it by Oct 15. That could be a small step on the long-term road to returning the milk industry to profitable production.

Just vote Yes in milk advertising poll

When youve got a world-beating product, it pays to tell people. Never is that more true than when the price of your product is much less than it should be and a range of middle men are determined to take more than their fair share.

For those reasons, producers who want to safeguard their profitability and the future of UK milk production should vote Yes for a national advertising campaign.

Each year nearly £100m is lost to the industry as consumption falls. You could help reverse that worrying trend by simply supporting the forthcoming poll to be conducted by MAFF.

So dig out your voting form and returning it by Oct 15. That could be a small step on the long-term road to returning the milk industry to profitable production.

Explaining farm truths to schoolteachers

What were your first impressions of the UKs farming industry?

How do you think it is perceived by todays youngsters?

The answers will be vastly different. Chances are most school children, not to mention their teachers, consider food comes from supermarkets not farms. Many are also confused by the stories they read about food safety, animal welfare and new technology.

So, the CLA is to be congratulated for trying to put the record straight. Its one day conference Countryside in the Core Curriculum to be held on Oct 15 at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London, will explain the true facts about UK farming to teachers. Just as important it will explain how the countryside can be used as a valuable teaching resource.

The initiative deserves to succeed. You can help by telling your local school. Time is short so for more information and booking inquiries ring 0207 460 7935.

Vets feel the pinch too in farming crisis

Cutting costs, sharing equipment or merging businesses. Sound like familiar solutions taken to improve farm profitability?

They are also the options rural vets are having to consider. Large animals now account for only 30% of drug sales and 11% of work fees in a typical practice – both figures half their 1985 value.

And should vets lose their exclusive right to dispense drugs, experts estimate fees will have to increase four-fold to maintain current net profits. Thats a level vets acknowledge few producers could afford.

It just goes to prove how far-reaching the effects of the farming crisis are. Even vets are having to join their farmer customers in taking radical action to survive.

Single-variety system is simply excellent

Imagine growing almost 1600ha (4000 acres) of wheat and rape with just one variety of each. Sounds scary? Not for two farming brothers in Kent, who reckon that producing two varieties well is worth more than growing a mix of potentially higher yielding types.

Simplified agronomy, product purchasing and management decisions bring big benefits, they say.

Careful crop monitoring is essential, to prevent disease or pests spreading through the entire area. Fingers will also be crossed that neither crop fails to perform in an exceptional season as was the case with Moulin wheat.

Top-drawer grain can pay a nice premium

Premiums of £5-7/t over feed are emerging for pukka soft wheat. Even less than perfect grain may be worth a £ or two more.

The wet harvest has played a part, though traders believe there is enough to go round. More importantly, many farmers, struggling to work the land, have not yet sampled their wheat and are not selling.

Testing grain now and phoning a merchant might pay dividends – while the market is still hungry.

Roadshow could help you cut those inputs

Making the best use of farm inputs is in everyones interests. So the introduction of a series of regional roadshows, designed to help arable farmers exploit integrated crop management, should be welcomed.

Farmers have always taken variety, previous cropping and local weather into consideration when planning inputs. But new research shows there is scope for fine-tuning inputs further.

FARMERS WEEKLY is pleased to be associated with the roadshow initiative, which is being organised by MAFF and the Integrated Arable Crop Production Alliance.

The £25 entry ticket is a small price to pay to find new ways of cutting farm costs.

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Archive Article: 1999/10/08

8 October 1999

Heads down for a new beginning…Limousins led both the male and female trade at the inaugural all-breed beef sale held at Doug Mashs Torrington Farm, Chesham, Bucks last weekend. Leading the bulls was Wealden Oswald, a son of Scorboro Jeffrey with a Beef Value of 24. He was consigned by B J Baker, Battle, East Sussex and made 1800gns to F Conisbee and Son, Leatherhead. Canterbury, Kent. Limousin breeders E Beeney and Sons made the three highest bids for Limousin females including 1800gns to take Mr Mashs 10-month-old heifer Brockhurst Ontibet bred out of an imported cow that was inter-breed beef champion at this years Newark and Notts Show. Blonde dAquitaine bulls reached 1020gns for an entry from David Knights Doncombe herd at Chippenham. (Harrison and Hetherington).

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