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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

IN BRIEF

uCASH-STRAPPED farmers and growers could be prevented from taking on extra help after the governments decision to raise the national minimum wage, according to the NFU. Those employing conventional agricultural workers will not be affected because they pay more than the new £4.10/hour minimum. But the 10% hike will hit casual labour bills, says the NFUs Bob Fiddaman. Horticulturists will be hit particularly hard because labour makes up 45% of their costs.

uGRANTS to invest in systems such as traceability software or electronic tagging should be made available to farmers to encourage them to insure against disease, claims an insurance adviser. Colin Wales, business manager for Q Farms, says the long-term solution would encourage otherwise reluctant farmers to adopt such systems. "They would then be more willing to invest in insurance if they could see they were getting something for their money." &#42

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Price pointers

The following prices have been moved from the markets section, which has been condensed following the foot-and-mouth crisis. Both that section, and the sales diary usually found in this column, will return to normal when foot-and-mouth restrictions are lifted.

Tuesday, March 6

Conversion: 1 euro £0.6330

Feed barley intervention (£/t) Mar

as at March 6 (estimated) 72.95

Milk target price (p/litre) 20.19

Headage payments*

Beef special premium (steers)** 83.58

(bulls) 113.69

Suckler cow premium 111.85

*before deduction for modulation (2.5%)

**payable twice

Range of wholesale selling prices for

Grade A English produce Source Smithfield

Tues, Mar 6 Prices quoted, p/kg dw

New York dressed Bottom Top

Chicken

Up to 2kg 155 174

2kg-3kg 161 176

Large roasters 3kg 163 168

Ducklings

All weights 237 249

Spent hens, ex farm price 1p/kg lw

Breeder hens, ex farm, 18p/kg lw

*Prices supplied by member of the British Hen Packers Association.

Tue, March 6 Source Smithfield Market

Prices quoted in p/kg Range Trend

Beef

Scotch killed sides

ex KKCF 220-231 +

English hinds

ex KKCF 267-272 +

English fores 150-155 +

Lamb

*English small 445-456 +

*English medium 445-456 +

*English heavy 445456 +

NZ PLs new season 220-220 +

NZ PMs new season 220-220 +

NZ PXs new season 220-220 +

Pork

English under 100lb — —

English 100-120lb — —

English 120-160lb 203-206 +

Week ended Fri, March 9 Prices supplied by British Hay and Straw Merchants Association

Merchants buying prices for hay in £/t ex farm

Pickup Big Pickup Big Sq

Baled Bale Baled Baled

Meadow Hay Barley Barley

Hay Straw Straw

Area/Quality good good good good

N-east 55.00 50.00 48.00 38.00

E Yorks 65.00 48.00 40.00 34.00

N Midlands 70.00 40.00 43.00 31.00

E Midlands 60.00 43.00 37.00 32.00

CentMids 60.00 40.00 45.00 35.00

E Counties 62.00 42.00 33.00 30.00

S-east 75.00 38.00 35.00 26.00

South 62.00 50.00 37.00 36.00

S-west 71.00 52.00 51.00 39.00

S Wales 60.00 50.00 50.00 42.00

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Onion production by Frederick Hiam at Tuddenham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk has increased steadily in recent years, reports vegetable manager Charlie Hancock. Here Neil Osborn precision-drills Red Baron, part of 400ha (1000 acres) aimed at supermarket outlets. Some of the crop is stored until May when New Zealand imports arrive.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Spring barley emergence has been delayed by cold weather, including this Optic spring barley at Stetchworth Estate Farms, Newmarket. Although it was drilled soon after the preceding Arable Stewardship stubble had been ploughed out on Feb 14, the crop had still not emerged by the start of this week, reports manager Ron Gabain.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Stephen Bumstead

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

Stephen Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from Ouse

Bank Farm, Great Barford,

Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

February, taking advantage of the frosts as the remaining fields have wet hollows in them. That means my chasing around doing a bit here and there until I get stopped. To onlookers this may seem a bit cautious, but when I say wet hollows I mean wet hollows. I have no intention of starring in this springs hit farming film Honey, Ive sunk the tractor, nor do I want to make a guest appearance in a certain farm machinery magazine with strong German connections.

Given the winter weather, I am very thankful that I ordered all our spring seed requirements back in October from North Herts Farmers Buying Group. It is all delivered and I just hope we can complete the drilling programme by the end of March.

We have no livestock on our farms but we do have livestock connections. To all livestock farmers my heart goes out to you. We hope, pray and offer our support. &#42

No I dont want to be on the cast of "Honey, I sunk the tractor", says Beds-grower Stephen Bumstead after battling to get land ploughed.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Andrew Keeler

Andrew Keeler farms with

his parents at Church Farm,

Aylsham, Norfolk. Sugar

beet, potatoes, winter

wheat and premium malting

barley are grown on the

32ha (80-acre) farm

LERAPs and Fusarium were the subjects of the in-house speakers, with guest speaker Les Pickles of HGCA talking on the future industrial use of cereals, mainly for starch production.

But pick of the speakers was Melvyn Askew of IENICA who talked on the future uses of oilseeds.

Not only was his talk enlightening, it was also very entertaining. If you get a chance, do go and listen to him.

Thank you for all the replies on potato storage. We decided to have a visit from Adrian Cunnington of the BPC, a storage specialist based at Sutton Bridge whose services are free to levy payers. More on potatoes next article. &#42

Aprils grain is moving early, but thats no problem as I get the April price, says Andrew Keeler.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Kevin Littleboy

Kevin Littleboy farms 243ha

(600 acres) as Howe

Estates at Howe, Thirsk, N

Yorks. The medium sandy

loam in the Vale of York

supports potatoes, winter

wheat, rape and barley, plus

grass for sheep

party were present and 10 Lib Dems.

When Michael Jack (Con) remarked on this, a government whip was dispatched to the tearooms to round up a few MPs. Clearly, the Prime Ministers concern over the disease wasnt matched by that of his colleagues, judging by the row upon row of empty seats in camera view.

The Labour areas initially represented were Bolton West, Tamworth, Newcastle North, Chorley, Scarborough, Pendle, Falmouth, Stroud, Monmouth, Blyth Valley, Carmarthen West, Warwick and Stoke North. So farmers, if your MP wasnt present when a national disaster was being discussed, I should ask where the blazes were they?

One thing that this dreadful foot-and-mouth disease episode has brought to the fore is the value of the internet for information. Congratulations to the internet news services for breaking the story and alerting all farmers.

The newsgroup uk.business.agriculture has been an invaluable source of expert opinion and practical information. I, for one, have absolutely no recollection of the previous outbreak, so had no idea even what to look for.

Talking of the internet, Globalfarmers excelled themselves by using free 500g packets of Cornflakes to promote the NTL/Globalfarmers joint venture. How very British, promoting maize which, of course, we grow a lot of in these isles! Try Weetabix next time – it may do something to help British agriculture. Mind you, I wont be receiving my free foreign food parcel. The site is so slow at present that when I try to register it crashes or freezes my computer.

One final point. On phoning the powers that be recently, a farmer was told that a ewe in labour doesnt constitute an animal in distress. Try telling the female population that labour isnt stressful! &#42

Was your MP in the House of Commons for the foot-and-mouth debate, asks Kevin Littleboy.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres).

31 by mid-March.

With the weather somewhat unsettled I can sense a bottleneck approaching unless we can get some more spring planting under way soon. We have 260ha (640 acres) of spring drilling to do and we are bound to find that all the winter corn will need top dressing and spraying at the same time.

A fortnights dry weather in March would be very welcome, allowing a significant proportion of the "jobs pending" to be crossed off.

Apex oilseed rape is making good use of the 70kg/ha (56 units/acre) of nitrogen applied on Feb 16. Thankfully the pigeons are more interested in the stubble turnips than the oilseed rape. By the time the later lambing ewes have demolished the turnips, probably by about mid-March, then the oilseed rape should be out of reach of the grey menace, I hope.

This month I was going to try to persuade the last few doubters among you to register with the Countryside Alliance and attend the Livelihood and Liberty March.

But my plans have been over-taken by the devastating events of the Foot and Mouth epidemic and inevitable postponement of the March.

I have never been totally convinced by politicians and I wonder if all the platitudes spoken by the Prime Minister at recent pre-election rallies will ever be converted into help for this industry. But as the effects of the movement ban begin to bite and the cold stores run short of red meat perhaps the Government and the great British public will come to realise just who it is that fills their shopping basket every week. British agriculture needs more than sympathy if it is going to continue to feed the nation and to look after the most admired countryside in Europe. &#42

Maybe foot-and-mouth will make Government and the public realise just who it is that fills their shopping basket every week, says Patrick Godwin.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

CHURCH-GOERS around the country responded to calls from the Archbishop of Canterbury and said prayers last Sunday for farmers hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

"At this time when farming and other communities are feeling deeply isolated and under great stress, it is important that we stand together with them in thought, word and deed," said the Archbishop, Dr George Carey.

"Sadly the problems that confront those in difficulty seem unlikely to be short lived. We hope very much, therefore, that their needs will remain a focus of prayer while the crisis continues."

Special prayers have been posted on the Church of Englands web-site (www.c-of-e.org.uk) and a fund has been set up to raise money for those in most need.

"We have seen there is a need to provide a safety net under the trap door on which many are standing," says Gordon Gatward, director of the Arthur Rank Centre, the Churches rural resource centre which is running the fund.

The ARC, meanwhile, still expect Green Ribbon Day to go ahead on Rogation Sunday, May 20. This will, as last year, be a national day of prayer for the farming community, fostering links between town and country.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Chris Knowles

Chris Knowles farms in

partnership with his parents

in the West Penwith

Environmentally Sensitive

Area near St Ives, Cornwall.

The farm consists of 97ha

(240 acres) of grassland and

45ha (110 acres) of rough

moor land, stocked with 160

dairy cows, 80 followers and

50 assorted beef animals

WHAT a difference a fortnight can make. For the first time since last September we actually have some decent ground conditions.

The milkers went out on Feb 15, initially for about three hours. Currently they are out for seven hours and grazing about 6kg DM/head. The dry weather came just in time, as silage stocks were starting to look fairly low.

We have gone from using just over 5t silage/day to just over 3t. Concentrates have yet to be cut back in an attempt to produce and sell as much milk as possible in this quota year.

We have about 40 cows left to calve; those furthest off are in on silage and those showing bag are out at grass full time. This last group are given a fresh break of grass after evening milking to encourage them to calve during the day. This has resulted in about 80% calving during daylight hours.

We are taking a different approach to grassland management this spring than in the past. All fields will be grazed and no ground will be shut up for silage until grass growth really takes off in April.

Having always made silage during the first week of May, we will now be looking at late May instead. I should let our silage contractor know of our plans, although he has recently taken on the tenancy of our local pub so I expect I will be seeing him there from time to time anyway.

Cornwall has recently secured the highest level of European funding – Objective 1 status. Most farmers are understandably eager to know how this will affect their businesses and exactly what opportunities for funding there will be.

At present there seems to be a lot of confusion over what is eligible for funding. I recently received both an application form and explanatory notes. Perhaps the provision of a dictionary and thesaurus would be useful as both documents smacked of European bureaucracy at its most complicated. &#42

Despite the spectre of foot-and-mouth hanging over the industry, life goes on… Chris Knowles has turned cows out for a few hours a day recently and plans to change his approach to grassland management this year.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Dennis Bridgeford

Dennis Bridgeford farms

50ha (125 acres) at Petley

Farm in Easter Ross, north

of Inverness. The farm

comprises a 480-sow

indoor unit producing 95kg

pigs for one outlet and 85kg

pigs for a local abattoir. A

further 320 sows are run

outdoors. Land not used for

pigs grows spring barley

AS an industry we seem to go from one crisis to the next. But the latest problem to hit not only the pig industry, but livestock farming in general is the worst possible scenario.

My thoughts recently have concerned how to prevent pig wasting syndrome arriving on the unit. Then out of the blue we have a foot-and-mouth outbreak.

I think I will remember the phone call for years to come, when the man from the Ministry called to say that because we had delivered cull sows to the plant where foot-and-mouth was first confirmed, we would require a herd inspection from a MAFF vet.

This automatically triggers a 21-day standstill on all stock movements. Your heart jumps into your mouth with terrible thoughts. Our link with the plant was distant. The sows had been delivered to a collecting centre 10 days prior to the outbreak and with the lorry never leaving the area I was as confident as you can be on these occasions.

After a very thorough inspection, we were thankfully given a clean bill of health. The only problem – in common with most other pig farms – is to organise accommodation within the unit to hold extra pigs for the shut down period.

If you could call it luck, the two weeks prior to the foot-and-mouth outbreak had been particularly good weeks of sales off the unit with an unusually quiet period of farrowing.

But over-stocking will be a problem if controls remain for any length of time. Let us hope the virus can be brought under control quickly.

I was getting quite a bit of stick regarding last months comments when I suggested we should re-build Hadrians Wall. The only change I would make is to build it higher. I am not trying to be detrimental to our neighbours, but with lifting of border controls with the Continent we seem to be getting an upsurge in disease problems.

As if all this wasnt enough the weather has been terrible with snow like we havent seen for years. &#42

Dennis Bridgeford breathed a sigh of relief when his unit, which had supplied sows to Cheale Meats, where foot-and-mouth was first identified, was given the all-clear.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Steve Morris

Steve Morris farms in the

Forest of Bowland, Lancs, in

partnership with his wife

Valerie. Over half of the

190ha (470 acre) LFA farm

is heather fell, with a further

20ha (50 acres) of rough

grazing. It is stocked with

50 dairy cows, 280 Lonk

ewes, 100 half-breds and

40 gimmer hoggs.

AS I write, confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth are just 10 miles away, but I fear that will have changed by the time you read these notes. Disinfected straw lies across the end of the farm drive, with a bucket and brush available for those who choose to use it. What more can we do? These efforts seem futile; a token gesture.

Goodshaw Farm is riddled with public footpaths, particularly the lower land. There is hardly a field without stiles, kissing gates or wall-ladders. The people who use these rights of way fall broadly into one of three categories.

The first group is what I describe as professional ramblers. Usually in pairs, but sometimes larger groups and occasionally individuals, this type are well equipped, knowledgeable about the countryside in general and often farming in particular.

One popular footpath cuts through the farmyard, which gives us chance to engage in conversation on a whole range of issues. It is unusual to see this type of rambler with a dog in-tow. Since the foot-and-mouth outbreak this group have taken to local country lanes, still in the countryside, but thankfully they seem to be staying away from the land.

Next come the coach parties. More of a social gathering, these groups seem less inclined to communicate one to one with us but in-the-main are harmless, barring the opening and closing of gates. Often marshalled by three or four ex-army types, this category immediately took heed of the MAFF request to stay away.

Finally we have the category who appear to have a total disregard for Nick Browns requests, the farming community and common sense itself. These are usually solitary males with a large breed of dog and an off-road vehicle, which is ironic because when you meet one on a narrow lane, they seem terrified of getting off the road.

Footpaths are almost an irrelevance to this third group whose attitude can be summarised as: "Its my dog and it can defecate wherever it chooses." The first two categories probably would not classify this group as ramblers at all.

If only this final group could have their movements stopped as quickly and effectively as livestock movements have been. &#42

Steve Morriss land is crossed by many rights of way and not all walkers are heeding warnings to stay away, following the recent foot-and-mouth outbreak.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Richard Hinchion

Richard Hinchion milks 60

dairy cows and rears 40

replacements on 34ha (83

acres) at Crookstown, west

of Cork city, in southern

Ireland. With a fixed quota

of just over 300,000 litres,

the emphasis is on low-cost

production. Cows yield

6000 litres from 650kg of

concentrate

THE calving season is in full swing with 30 cows calved as we approach Feb 23. It looks as though our target of 50 cows calved by Feb 28 is unrealistic because cows are seven to 14 days late.

So far we have 46% heifers born from Friesian AI. We have only lost one calf, which was still-born, but this was compensated for by the arrival of twin heifers the next day.

We start calved cows on 4kg of an 18% protein dairy ration costing £133/t and gradually increase this to 7.5kg while cows are still indoors.

Present indications are that Dairygold co-op is under quota by 4.54m litres, so it is full steam ahead to produce as much milk as possible. However, by Mar 20, depending on weather and grass growth, things may have changed.

Recent exceptionally dry weather allowed us to complete fertiliser spreading using 125kg/ha (50kg/acre) of prilled urea. I had hoped for cows to be out by mid-February. But on completing a walking tour of all paddocks with my daughter Sarah, I was disappointed to find an overall grass cover of only 480kg DM/ha. We have decided to wait for a week or so. Lets hope grass growth will have improved by then.

Did you know that if you have to carry milk in buckets to 50 calves at a rate of 318 litres/calf between birth and weaning, you will have carried 16t of milk by the time they are weaned? This year we reckoned we had built enough muscles over the years. Instead, we decided to pump milk from the parlour pit fresh from cow to calf house. It is working a treat.

However, it looks as though we will be lucky to get £40-£55 for three-week-old Holstein bull calves. The beef industry is still in turmoil over BSE in Europe and now confirmation of foot-and-mouth in England, which is worrying. It is now almost impossible to move cull cows into the Purchase for Destruction Scheme.

But every cloud has a silver lining. Dairygold co-op announced 0.17p/litre bonuses on 2000 milk supply. This will amount to £536, so we look forward to the postman arriving with our brown envelope. &#42

Dry, fine weather has allowed Richard Hinchion to apply fertiliser recently, but grass is not growing as quickly as he would like.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

Lets stick to just one standard

We thought that BSE was a tragedy for British agriculture and since Christmas the sheep trade picked up to the extent that the sheep sector hoped it had turned the corner. Now we have the disaster that is foot-and-mouth disease.

Farm assurance and traceability seem to be the most important elements to the supermarket buyers. So why are we importing meat from countries known to have foot-and-mouth disease?

If we are going to have a standard for our livestock producers, lets have a standard and adhere to it. We do not want one standard to give confidence to the buying public and another standard which will reduce livestock prices to the producer by bringing in cheap foreign imports. Farmers, markets, abattoirs and traders are not all going to be blamed for this dreadful disease.

It is the cheap food policy that has been adopted since the war that is to blame. The government must tighten the rules for the import of food from countries that do not adopt our high standards.

R Hyde

Brim Field, Nr Ludlow, Shropshire.

It always comes from abroad

After a suspected outbreak of swine fever on a nearby farm in the 1960s, I remember how quickly MAFF vets descended upon me to check my stock.

I also remember how I felt when everyone around got to know about it and they all naturally thought I had the disease.

A pig farmer stated recently on the radio that he was worried that people would think he had foot-and-mouth disease because he had sent some pigs to Cheale Meats. It is very unfair that these incidents get reported and distortions of the truth end in false innuendoes. We live in an age when everyone is very quick to judge and then seek scapegoats to keep the public feel-good factor.

The only fact any foot-and-mouth disease inquest should identify is that the disease, like swine fever, always comes from another country because it does not normally exist in the UK. No amount of UK farm legislation, recording or policing will have the slightest effect on diseases such as foot-and-mouth entering Britain and causing devastation to our livestock and farms. So why have any of it in the first place? The only answer is to keep thousands of people in jobs that do not really exist while paying them with money extracted from farmers. I call that corruption.

Sam Millward

36 Scalby Road, Burniston, Nr Scarborough.

Food safety is not a priority

I can easily explain to Sylvia R Manley (Letters, Feb 23) why the Food Standards Agency refuses to ban beef imports from France and Germany.

Not upsetting our European neighbours is the number one priority; food safety comes a distant second.

David Pestell

Highbury Farm, Banningham, Norfolk.

Extend foot and mouth bans

Should the foot-and-mouth bans not be extended to incoming foreign stock and vehicles? Also shouldnt we increase the inspection of carcasses at ports?

Representations should be made to ensure that no general election should be called while livestock movements are banned.

Judith Shelley

Judy@mfhshelley.fsnet.co.uk

Right-to-roam Act utter folly

The disaster of foot-and-mouth highlights the utter folly of the governments Right to Roam Act. The legislation should be reversed immediately.

Walkers should always be strictly confined to footpaths and green lanes which could, if necessary, be fenced. Dogs should be banned completely from farmland bearing in mind the contribution which badgers, foxes and rats may make towards the spread of the devastating foot-and-mouth disease.

It is all very well allowing free access to livestock land and pretending that everything will be all right.

Clearly, as in the present case, things are not all right at all, and firm measures are necessary to safeguard our livestock and countryside from disease.

The awful possibility that the present outbreak may be the work of an enemy using biological warfare methods, or other experiments, must be considered.

W F Kerswell

Sallins Cottage, Picklescott, Church Stretton, Shropshire.

Hare coursing hasnt stopped

With the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, hunting and coursing have been suspended and ramblers asked to practice caution where they walk. I am sure all these people involved in these pastimes will adhere to this decision by the government. What has not stopped however is illegal hare coursing.

On Sat, Feb 24, we were once again plagued by people trespassing over our farm. They had driven up from Kent to course in Lincs and Cambs and who knows where else en-route?

They have no respect for the countryside, its people, its wildlife and obviously the livestock. At present they are endangering livestock and in the future endangering the very existence of the brown hare itself in many parts of the country. These people are above the laws of this land. I am sure, should a ban on hunting with dogs come into force, they will remain so.

This problem will remain with us as long as we have laws to deal with this problem that have not changed since they were introduced in the 1800s. And a police force in the countryside that cannot enforce them.

If as much manpower and resources had been extended to our police force as has been devoted to farming red-tape by the present and the past governments, we would have a far safer countryside to live in.

Rex Sly

Turfpits Farm, Queens Bank, Crowland, Peterborough.

Do lime layers really work?

Scientists tell us that the foot-and-mouth virus is deactivated by high pH of above 9. Given that disinfectants are now running short, we are now being asked by our customers to spread a layer of agricultural lime along farm access roads, and field gateways, to help limit virus spread by providing an alkaline barrier.

This practice is an old-fashioned solution; no doubt some of your readers will remember it as a disease precaution measure about 20 years ago, before it was superseded by chemicals. Its a quick and easy measure, and we are glad to try to help our customers. But how effective is it in the light of modern science? We have asked MAFF for official guidance on this practice but as yet theres no response.

Does anyone else have any information? For example, on how thick or wide the layer should be?

John Prentis

R+T Agricultural Liming, Warboys, Cambs.

Action wasnt fast enough

I have followed the foot-and-mouth crisis since day one. If the government/MAFF had banned first, the movement of livestock and second, public access to the countryside from the first report (Feb 19) of the outbreak, perhaps the spread of this extremely virulent and infectious virus would have been restricted to a smaller area of the UK.

By failing to restrict the movement of livestock and public access into the countryside the government has increased the time-scale of this crisis. It has availed a far wider spread of the disease and prolonged the agony of the rural community.

By restricting livestock movement and public access more quickly, the government would have restricted, if not removed, the risk of the spread of this disease to Europe. It would have also reduced the knock on effect to the associated rural businesses, the public as consumers and mitigated the cost to the British taxpayer. It seems to me a clear case of the government shutting the door once the horse has bolted.

Shuna Anderson

Shuna.Anderson@tesco.net

Turkeys didnt vote for Xmas

I write to correct a number of inaccuracies in Neil Datsons Talking Point (Feb 23).

The PIDS scheme was not an existing scheme but was drafted from scratch initially for the purpose of securing further aid for East Anglia. We anticipate that it will be ratified by parliament on Mar 1.

There was general agreement within the industry to combine the representative bodies into one organisation, the NPA, recognised now for negotiations on a number of fronts for the pig industry. The producer group has made and will continue to make difficult decisions to take the industry forward, especially, as in this case, when time is of the essence.

The producer group representatives have full access to information and are free to discuss any matter at our frequent regional meetings or at the telephone. Anyone who believes "the leadership" is unaccountable would be enlightened by some of the more robust members of the group.

The turkeys did not vote for Christmas. In anticipation of someone making this challenge, I excluded the East Anglians present from the levy vote. The vote was taken after much careful and often heated discussion.

Im disappointed that much of the criticism came without full consideration for the immediate plight of East Anglian producers, and worse still, without anyone proposing a workable alternative. Indeed I still await any hint of a workable alternative from the critics. Perhaps those who criticise from a distance do not and have not had to look an East Anglian producer in the eye.

Stewart Houston

Chairman, Producer Group, NPA, Agricultural House, 164 Shaftesbury Ave, London.

Nothing left for another levy

On listening to a radio interview on Feb 25 concerning the serious foot-and-mouth outbreak, I was amazed by the comments of Ian Gardiner of the NFU.

British agriculture is facing its greatest crisis in 70 years, farmers are crying out for support and guidance on how they will ride through this terrible storm and what do we get from Mr Gardiner?

He tells us that farmers should pay a levy to enable them to receive compensation for any future disaster like the present one.

Where does Mr Gardiner think all this money for yet another levy is going to come from?

Does he not study the figures put out by his own organisation that show we havent got anything left for another levy? And why should British farmers, pay for mistakes that have been made by government. If it wants a cheaper shopping basket, then it has to pay the penalty and the NFU must realise that as well. Perhaps Mr Gardiners time would be better spent making sure we had an import ban so that we can all make a living.

Wouldnt it have been more appropriate for the NFU, instead of paying £13.5m for Shaftesbury Avenue, used that money to help all the farming families in the UK?

David Handley

Chairman, Farmers for Action, Old Llanishen Farm, Llangoven, Monmouth.

Follow Frances self-promotion

As an agricultural engineering consultant, I visited the Sima exhibition in Paris last week and also looked into the SIA event.

The British agricultural sector needs to promote itself in a similar exhibition to show the public how the food production system really works, presented by people with knowledge; not half informed TV presenters. There are plenty of specialist producers of food products who could promote their wares and the larger processors could join in to inform, educate and promote.

I feel that neither the Royal Show nor the Smithfield Show fit the bill. The Royal Show has lost its way since it is no longer a trade show, or a social event or anything specific. The Smithfield Show is a trade only event held in the dingy confines of Earls Court at the wrong time of year.

If British agriculture promotes itself properly, it can also demonstrate its quality to the buying public. It was noticeable that all of the French regional foods were being promoted and sold at the SIA exhibition, apparently without needing to comply with most of the hygiene and food handler dress requirements that are imposed on British traders in the name of EU regulations.

David Williams

15 Brookhurst Court, Beverley Road, Leamington Spa.

Fox-hunting ban a massive loss

If fox-hunting is banned the fox will lose his most influential friends. Thousands of hounds will lose their lives. The horse will lose an activity from which it derives much enjoyment and incalculable benefit. Fox-hunting humans from all walks of life will lose what is for many the core of their existence and raison detre, and for all, a source of great pleasure and interest.

The rural economy, already pressed as never before, will lose a significant contribution. The English countryside will lose a potent force for conservation and for helping preserve the vital balance between predator and preyed upon. Our English heritage will lose the basis of a 300-year-old tradition of art, literature, anecdote and song. A very substantial minority of respectable people will lose an age-old freedom at the whim of the uninformed majority.

But on the other hand, Prime Minister Tony Blair, that man of hidden shallows, may gain a few votes. Tony Banks and Michael Foster and their colleagues may gain the satisfaction of having done some "good".

John Bryant

Sleaford, Lincs.

What more can farmers do?

I would like to comment on statements from various influential people. First, Tony Blairs aid to farmers last year together with his message: "Trust me." They still do not and are leaving agriculture in droves.

Nothing will be done because ex-NFU economist Sean Rickard has advised the government that "one in four farmers could quit without discernible impact, leaving bigger, better farms which would put more money into the rural economy."

Also, the government tells us to diversify. But recently a local family cheese operation had to close. The business was well established and sold its product in supermarkets and Harrods, so what hope is there for the rest? I was always told to stick to what I know best and most have no choice.

Then, Lord Haskins, who no doubt has the governments ear, has indicated that "farming did not modernise itself in the 80s and 90s because it was cushioned by the CAP and subsidies." If it did not invest when it had the money, I cannot see it happening now.

Also Sir John Krebs of the Foods Standards Agency says consumers are confused by the British Farm Standard little red tractor. So the marketing tool which the NFU promoted as our salvation is, sadly, probably at best somewhat counterproductive. What is wrong with a good old Q for Quality mark with a big Union Jack?

Finally, children when asked what words sprang to mind when thinking of farmers came up with old, ugly and sweaty". My wife agrees, so nobody loves us now.

Brian Chattey

Langford Court North, Cullompton, Devon.

What cost EU membership?

After responding to the need to produce sufficient food to feed the nation from 1939 for at least a decade, British farmers were subjected to the propaganda of the EEC. This is the benign name for a club of the defeated nations whose principal aim was to turn the tables on the victors. With great cunning, their main spokesman, Charles de Gaulle, claimed to be opposed to British membership. This was good psychology, as it rapidly became the object of desire initially by the Tories under Mr Heath, then promoted to absurd heights by New Labour.

A change of name to European Union should have rung alarm bells. By that time the mainland Europeans had acquired all our fish and controlled our agricultural cropping programme so we could not grow what we needed or support an industry that had served this country well.

It is time we were given an honest balance sheet; how much does membership of this club cost the British people? The nation should support those who supported them in their time of need.

Perhaps a Boston Tea Party would show the way. We should reject EU directives and products to put Britain on the road to honour and self-sufficiency.

It is obvious that if you give the EU an inch, they take a kilometre.

M Everest-Todd

Ings Farm, North Kelsey, Lincs.

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Archive Article: 2001/03/09

9 March 2001

AIR induction nozzles such as the bubble jet offer significant benefits, including extremely low drift, but they need using with care for best results.

"There will be around seven times less drift than from a conventional 3 bar fan nozzle," says Tom Robinson, application technology manager with Syngenta.

"The 3 star rating of many of them is also essential for LERAP buffers. They will keep some products alive by cutting drift to water," Mr Robinson adds.

The larger droplets are also good at penetrating a cereal crop to get at broadleaved weeds and for giving an even application of pre-emergence residual herbicides.

"Boom height is less critical than with fan jets. The bigger droplets have more momentum and arrive at the target more directly and evenly. They also tend to land more uniformly when spraying at speed because you do not get the wuffling barrier created by smaller drops," says Mr Robinson.

On the downside, air induction jets are more likely to block, especially tips with twin pre-orifice plates. "It pays to be even more careful than usual with your filtration and water supply. But cleaning the nozzles is not greatly different from the conventional types."

Larger droplets are not good on small targets, he notes. "Doubling the size of the spray drops means there are eight times fewer of them. That means post-em graminicides, which need good cover on small, often upward pointing leaves and potato blight sprays, which need overall cover in dense canopies, should not be sprayed with air induction nozzles.

"If you have a lot of hedges or obstructions that may catch the nozzles the short stubby versions of the tips are best. But if damage in unlikely, the long pointed types are very good," he says. &#42

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