Archive Article: 2001/09/14 - Farmers Weekly

Subscribe and save

Farmers Weekly from £133
Saving £46
In print AND tablet

SUBSCRIBE NOW

sub_ad_img

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

In pre-refrigeration days, the first month with an

autumnal r in it traditionally meant that pork was

back on the menu, says Philippa Vine who, in

addition to her seasonal recipes, reminds us

that now is the time to make your Christmas cake!

WHY not try your pork Italian-style this month by trying our easy recipe? Its a dish requiring only a few minutes of preparation. The real work happens in the casserole dish as the meat is gently braised in the milk with the flavours of the cinnamon, garlic and rosemary marinade yielding a melting aromatic succulence.

We are fortunate in having plenty of brambles along side our fields and Cuckoo Trail and one of my favourite tasks is picking pounds and pounds of free blackberries. As well as cooking them with apples try this delicious blackberry version of the ubiquitous banoffi pie and this no-fuss, no-cook jam.

I apologise for including my Christmas cake recipe in September (this cook did a trial version in May!) but I always make mine well before the children break up for half term in October. The more the cake is brandy fed and the longer it is left to mature then the better the final taste and texture. A tradition in our household is to give small individual cakes as presents. To bake these I use empty small baked bean cans (225g) (8oz) size tins as cake tins. I decorate the finished cakes with rolled fondant icing or with cherries and almonds.

Marinated pork

braised in milk

The meat really does benefit from being marinated overnight. If the sauce has a curdled appearance you can either leave as I do or just simply put it in a liquidiser and it will soon turn smooth. This dish really calls out for mashed potato to mop up the sauce and green vegetables.

Serves 6

1.5kg (3lb) pork,

you can use a loin of pork,

2 meaty spare ribs work just as well (just reduce the braising time).

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves, crushed in a pestle and mortar

Pinch of ground cinnamon

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 black peppercorns, crushed in a pestle and mortar

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of rosemary

75g (3oz) butter

600ml (1pt) full-fat milk,

Salt and pepper

Remove the rind from the pork, you should be just left with a thin layer of fat. Combine two tablespoons of oil, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, pepper-corns, bay leaf and rosemary and toss the pork in this until it is well coated. Cover and marinate for about eight hours or overnight. Turn the meat over whenever you remember.

When you are ready to cook the pork, heat the butter and the remaining oil in a heavy casserole over a high heat. Brush the marinade off the pork and reserve it, then brown the meat well on all sides. Heat the milk to boiling point and pour slowly over the meat and stir in the reserved marinade. Cover the casserole and cook for about three hours at a steady low simmer (or less depending on the cut of pork). Turn the meat over to baste, at least once. When the meat is wonderfully tender, transfer to a plate to keep warm. If the sauce is too thin, boil briskly without the lid until it darkens and thickens, you can add an extra knob of butter if you wish, and keep whisking and scraping the bottom of the pan. When you have the required consistency, skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce and remember to take out the remains of the marinade. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Carve the pork and spoon over the delicious sauce.

Blackberry and toffee crumble tart

I think this is such a good idea, it is delicious and simple to make. Use a large can of condensed milk and boil it (unopened) in a large pan of water for three hours. Once it has been boiled it turns into a delicious toffee, caramel spread (I usually cook two tins at once as the unopened tin will keep until next time). Keep checking the water level and top up if necessary. Make sure the saucepan does not boil dry. Allow the tin to cool before opening. If you really dont fancy doing it yourself you can now buy it ready done, it is in a jar called Dulce de Leche (I found it in the preserves aisle).

Serves 6

Filling:

700g (1lb 8oz) blackberries

1 tin condensed milk

(boiled, see above)

Base:

250g (8oz) Hob Nob

biscuits, crushed

100g (4oz) butter, melted

Crumble:

75g (3oz) wholemeal flour

50g (2oz) medium oatmeal

(or porridge oats)

50g (2oz) caster sugar (optional)

75g (3oz) butter

You will also need: a deep 23cm (9in) loose-bottomed, buttered flan tin.

Pre-heat the oven 200C (400F, Gas 6). Mix together the ingredients for the base and spread over the bottom of the prepared tin, pressing down evenly. Leave to chill (you can pop it in the freezer for quickness). Then spread the caramelised condensed milk on top of the biscuit base and top with the blackberries. Make the crumble topping (in the usual way), by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients to get a crumb texture. Sprinkle it over the blackberries and toffee and press down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 180C (350F, Gas 4) and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool down before carefully transferring onto a serving plate.

Serve with thick cream or good vanilla ice cream.

Blackberry freezer jam

This recipe was given to me by a great family friend who used to live across the field from me. It does not require any cooking, so it retains all the the fresh fruit flavour. It sets more like a conserve and works well with other soft fruits, according to season.

560g (1lb 4oz) fresh blackberries

700g (1lb 8oz) caster sugar

1/2 bottle liquid pectin

(eg Certo)

2 tablespoons fresh

lemon juice

Crush the fresh blackberries with the caster sugar. Leave to stand in a warm kitchen for about an hour, stirring occasionally. All the sugar should be dissolved. Now add the liquid pectin and lemon juice. Stir thoroughly for a further minute (I use a balloon whisk). Pour into small yogurt pots (or whatever is convenient for you) and cover with lids or clingfilm. Leave in a warm kitchen for a further 48 hours then freeze. Makes over 1.35kg (3lb). When you bring it out for use, store it in the fridge where it will keep for 6-8 weeks.

This is a straight-forward Christmas cake recipe. It produces a dark, rich and fruity cake – just what a real Christmas cake should be. I always make a large size because it keeps so well, and I end up sharing it with my parents who just love the ginger in it. If you dont like, say, ginger or glace cherries (or any other fruits in the recipe) just leave them out, but do be sure to make up the weight with other dried fruit ingredients. The toasted flaked almonds add a wonderful flavour to the cake.

Makes one cake about 23cm (9in) diameter

275g (10oz) softened butter

250g (8oz) soft dark brown sugar

500g (1lb) sultanas

500g (1lb) raisins

350g (12oz) currants

175g (6oz) candied peel, chopped

250g (8oz) dried pear, chopped, (this give a fudgy flavour

to the cake)

50g (2oz) preserved ginger, chopped

175g (6oz) flaked almonds, toasted until golden brown

275g (10oz) plain flour

1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon freshly

grated nutmeg

2 rounded teaspoons cinnamon

6 large eggs or 7 medium size eggs, beaten

150ml (1/4 pint) brandy, whisky or rum

Grated rind of 2 oranges and

2 lemons (optional)

Fruit Topping (optional)

26 no-soak prunes

4 dried apricots

6 globes of stem ginger

4 dried figs – sliced

3 glace cherries

2 tablespoons brandy

1 tablespoon apricot jam

Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F, Gas 4). Grease a 23cm (9in) cake tin and line it with bake-well paper. Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and then slowly stir in the flour.

In a large bowl mix all the remaining ingredients together, using your hands and then finally add the butter and sugar mixture, mixing really well, (checking down your list to ensure all the ingredients are in). Pour into the prepared tin, smoothing it even. Cover the top of the cake with a double layer of greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 140C (275F, Gas 1) and bake for a further two-and-a-half hours or until the centre is firm and springy to the touch. Leave the cake to cool in its tin.

When cold, stick a skewer in the top of the cake to make small holes and then spoon brandy over to soak in through the holes and permeate the cake. Then tip it out of the tin and wrap it up well in foil and store it in a cool place. I like to feed it with brandy at intervals or when I remember.

I dont always marzipan and ice my cake, some years I prefer to decorate the top with glace fruit. To do this you simply heat one tablespoon apricot jam with two tablespoons brandy, then brush the top of your cake quite generously with the mixture. Next arrange the fruits artistically on top of the cake. Brush the fruits with a coating of the jam mixture (you may have to reheat the mixture at this stage or even make some more). Finally tie a large ribbon around the cake to cover the sides.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Jury out on milk quota years production

Will we or wont we? That is the question that dairy farmers, advisers, brokers and commentators are all asking when it comes to the UK meeting quota this milk year.

The jury is out. But, with production moving nearer quota over the past three months, some believe it could be a close-run thing come March 31.

Low fat milk producers should keep a close watch if butterfat levels continue at their current low level. If the UK exceeds quota, and national butterfat matches or falls below its 3.97% base, overall volume, rather than butterfat-adjusted volume, counts for individual quota purposes.

Although that is good news for high fat producers, it could catch out those on "white-water" contracts, because they would no longer be able to make downward adjustments to avoid super-levy.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Main points of autumn

movement regime

County Classification

Counties are divided into three categories. The classification of each county will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

F&M Free Counties – no outbreaks for three months and serological testing complete. Arrangements for all livestock start from Sept 17.

F&M At Risk Counties – no outbreaks for the past 30 days and serological surveillance in 3km zones complete. Surveillance in 3-10 km zones not complete. Arrangements for cattle and pigs from Sept 24, for sheep from Oct 31.

F&M High Risk Counties – outbreaks in past 30 days and serological surveillance not complete. Sheep movements in Devon under high risk category until serological testing complete. Arrangements for cattle and pigs from Sept 24, sheep from Oct 31.

Movements

Cattle, sheep and pigs can move from free counties to other free counties and at risk areas. Pigs to high risk counties under certain conditions.

Cattle, sheep and pigs can move from one at risk county to another, but not to free or high risk counties. Pigs to high risk counties under certain conditions.

Cattle pigs and sheep in high risk counties can only move within their own county.

No movement is allowed into and out of infected areas where extra restrictions are in place.

Sheep in at risk and high risk areas have to come from blood tested flocks before they can move. Batches can be moved from individual flocks to up to three different destinations in a 14-day period.

Rams must be individually tested. Each animal can move only once. Batches of rams can be moved to more than three destinations within 14 days, however.

Movements licences issued by local authorities.

Animals must be identified and 21 movement rules apply.

All movements are subject to biosecurity controls and all livestock must be inspected by a vet in the 24 hours prior to movement.

Maximum journey time is nine hours

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Heavy clay in East Sussex gets its first subsoiling since flooding last autumn, but this 410hp Claas Challenger 95E matched to a 6m Simba Solo and Culti-Press made a fine job preparing the ground for winter wheat. Meanwhile, prices for the current feed wheat crop have slipped about £1/t, leaving typical ex-farm values just below £80/t for Oct-Dec. Cheap Danish and German supplies, better yields from later crops and limited consumer demand weighed on the market.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Lamb buyers emerge by the thousand

A thousand thanks to anyone who has supported our Light Lamb Ban Beater Campaign.

More than 1000 lambs have been ordered in the light lamb promotion set up by leading producer meat initiative Farmers First and FARMERS WEEKLY.

Its a tribute to the power of true co-operation if you would like to join the first 1000 buyers, together with the Farmers Club and machinery giant Agco, then turn to page 18.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

SOUTH

WITH winter wheat cleared across much of southern England, combines went into beans and spring wheat during the week, bringing a drawn out campaign to a close.

Bean yields, like wheat and barley, vary from very good to disastrous depending on ground conditions.

"I know of one farm where winter beans have done 9cwt/acre and the spring crop has done 2.4t/acre. Thats how variable it is," says Glencores Robert Kerr. Overall winter bean yields are down and while spring yields are average to good, bruchid beetle damage is widespread. "Certainly 50% of samples are affected."

South-west barometer grower George Hosford hasnt seen any bruchid damage in his Victor, but is disappointed with both yield at 3.4t/ha and a stained sample. "Last year they yielded just under 2t/acre. This year they didnt get enough rain at the right time."

This week should see Senator oilseed rape cleared, completing his harvest. But in north Norfolk, parts of Lincs and the West Midlands pockets of winter wheat remain, plus spring wheat and beans.

At Rhoon Farm, Kings Lynn, barometer grower Stuart Knights Victor beans were not fit earlier this week, Paragon spring wheat being finished last weekend. Yield, at 6.2t/ha (2.5t/acre) was below the expected 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) but the sample looks good, he says.

Winter wheat yields on his farm were above budget (Arable, Aug 31) but across southern England as a whole wheat yields are about 10% below the five-year average, estimates Mr Kerr.

Add in 19-24% reduced plantings and most growers will have 30% less in the barn. "But that fact is already in the market."

A fortunate few in parts of Lincs, Hants and Herefordshire have had bumper yields, he adds. "The connecting factor is timeliness of drilling and free-draining soils."

That could equally be applied to spring barley which was drilled in windows from January through to April.

Co-operative stores in Wilts and Hants, drawing crop off mostly chalk land, report 80% of spring barley making malting quality. But Kents Weald Granary, with some crops coming from "one-off" growers forced into the crop on heavy ground, admits as few as 20% of samples will make the grade. &#42

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

New guidelines for potato desiccant Reglone (diquat) get the once over from Syngentas Tom Robinson (left) and Andrew Spoor, farm manager at Wootton Marsh Farms, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, where detailed trials are backing the products rejuvenation. Old Morecs soil moisture advice is being replaced by an in-field test, taking account of irrigation, soil type, local showers and seed-bed. Combined with new advice on split treatments, nozzle choice and water volumes growers can now tailor use accurately and still avoid vascular browning and storage problems, says the firms Chris Ursell. He anticipates a doubling in market share as growers move away from acid and its cost, timeliness and environmental/public perception problems. Near infra-red imaging is being used to highlight differences in burn-down. More details in next weeks issue.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Spotlight on Scottish barometer

Frequent shower dodging has turned Tom Robbs promising harvest at Kildary, near Invergordon, into a frustrating battle needing night-time work to gather fast deteriorating crops.

"Its a difficult and disappointing time in this my last year here."

The two 15ft cut Claas Dominator combines at Pitmaduthy and Newmoor Farms did clear 29ha (72 acres) in one day last week and another 20ha (50 acres) between 5pm and 3.30am over a week ago.

"But most of the time we just havent had the chance to use them. The rain never stops long enough. Its been unbelievably localised."

Pitmaduthy, nearest the coast, is suffering most but at Newmoor, 40ha (100 acres) of August-sown Riband wheat has been fit for over a week and is turning black. While he has been able to take spring barley on the odd dry day, wheat needs a three-day dry spell to go, he says. "We havent touched any of our 285 acres yet."

Last year, harvest finished with spring rape on Sept 26 but this years close is set to be considerably later. "Its not even been sprayed off yet, so it will be at least another fortnight."

His experience is shared by many farms in the area, with combines needing three or four bites to finish fields. Cutting spring barley without damaging it has been very tricky in the catchy weather.

"Its been very hard in these continual wet/dry, wet/dry spells to set the combines for an acceptable grain sample without skinning or cracking it."

Variable best describes the result, he adds. "Yields have ranged

from 2.25 to 2.75t/acre, nitrogens 1.4-1.9%, and screenings 2-20% over 2.5mm. Skinned grain levels have been 1-15% and moistures 16-23%. We have even had some fusarium which I have never seen in barley before."

Optic off 40ha has gone for malting but a similar area of Chalice was rejected for either skinning or excess nitrogen. "With feed barley at only £60/t thats a big disappointment."

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

NORTH

HUGE variations hide a slump in wheat yields in the south of the region but a better performance on light land in the north. For some, spring barley has been the silver lining to last winters dark clouds.

In Berwickshire, the wet season favoured the lighter land at Hamish Morison Farming, West Morriston, says barometer grower Les Anderson. Wheat yields have broken all farm records with an average of 9.4t/ha for Consort and Riband.

"The best field produced 4.4 t/acre, with a bushel weight of 79-80kg/hl." Combines are now into the last 55ha of Optic while a further 70ha of Riband and Consort and 36ha of Paragon spring wheat ripens.

Earlier cut Optic was disappointing, yielding 5.9t/ha (2.4t/acre). "I would usually expect 2.7-2.8t. Despite using a strobilurin two months ago fusarium had got hold of the crop and caused gaps, which split the seed."

But while light land wheats have done well, autumn-sown crops on heavier ground have lost both yield and quality due to water-logging last winter, says Agrovistas Mark Palmer. Overall, he estimates wheat is 1.2-2.5t/ha down on the year across the region.

Gleadell Agricultures David Shepherd echoes Mr Palmers comments, estimating that wheat yields in Yorks are 5-10% down on last year.

But in Co Durham, near Sedgefield, farm manager John Mackley has had above average yields from early drilled Claire. The only problem is that the area of wheat sown was halved by the awful autumn.

"Yields have been exceptional, with no sprouting and Hagbergs ranging 220-310. Normally we expect 3.5t/acre but this year the average is 4.3t."

Spring barley sown in place of winter crops could turn out to be the most profitable crop when straw prices are taken into account, says Dalgety agronomist Chris Dale.

It out-performed the disappointing winter barley crop with yields averaging 4.9-6.8t/ha (2-2.75t/acre). Quality is good, Optic being the star performer, he says.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Costs down & quality up for crisping spuds

Why transport potatoes in bulk to processors when they could be bagged and delivered direct from the field? Thats the thinking behind a novel system developed by machinery manufacturer Haith Tickhill and the potato marketing Higgins Group.

The result is a trailer which collects and bags potatoes directly from the harvester.

If potato quality is up to scratch, bagged crop can be ferried straight from field to processor rather than field to farm and then processor.

Is not difficult to see the benefits for high quality crisping, chipping and seed potato growers. Not only are transport costs slashed, potato quality received by processors will be higher due to quicker haulage and less handling.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

How does your spring barley match up?

Spring barley rocketed this year after the atrocious winter. But did it do well enough to win a larger share of this seasons cropping?

To find out, FW has joined forces with barley breeder, New Farm Crops. We aim to survey how the crop performed and which agronomic practices worked best.

Results will be analysed independently and reported fully in FARMERS WEEKLY.

Every contributor will receive a detailed insight into this potentially profitable crop. Telephone 01743 282060 if you did not receive your questionnaire with this copy of FARMERS WEEKLY.

What better way to find out if your crop matched up to the best of the rest?

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

An early start…maize harvest has started a fortnight early at East Close Farm, Dorset. The crop yielded more than 7.7t/ha (19t/acre) with a dry matter of about 30%, says farm manager Peter Bailey. This yield is higher than anticipated, considering maize is grown on gravel and this summers low rainfall. Maize silage is the sole forage in the ration fed to the 400-cow dairy herd this winter.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Judging took place last week in the "box" section of the annual Organic Food Awards at Tim and Jan Deanes 12.5ha (30-acre) Northwood Farm, Christow, Devon. As well as helping judge the competition, the Deanes (inset) were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their own box scheme, believed to be the first in the UK. They have recently expanded by joining forces with Martyn Bragg – a recent convert to organic vegetable growing on his Barton Farm seven miles away. The judges were looking for high quality and freshness of produce as well as its interest and appeal. Earlier rounds had assessed length of supply season, proportion of home-grown produce, and how much had been bought locally rather than imported. There are now more than 350 organic box schemes in the UK, 26 of which are in Devon, a county planning to convert 30% of its farming to organic by 2008, according to another judge Ian Hutchcroft. Typically, customers have a standing order for one box a week delivered including whatever vegetables the grower has available in season or can buy locally. Some supply every week of the year.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Weighbridge levies must be resisted

The recent suggestion (Talking Point, Aug 10) that we should refuse to pay the iniquitous weighbridge charge levied on every load of grain deserves all our support.

It has obviously touched a raw nerve as Paul Rooke, UKASTA policy director tries to justify the practice with meaningless waffle (Letters, Aug 31). We have a 50ft 50t Weights and Measures approved weighbridge, but we still have to pay weighbridge charges when loads get to their destination.

Why should that be? When any bulk load that arrives on farm, be it chalk, sand or gravel, fertiliser or fuel, we accept the vendors weights. Why should our grain merchant not accept ours? Obviously, it has become a lucrative earner in its own right. We know that an annual service charge is about £1000, depreciation is negligible, and a persons time is not consequential.

A small mill might take 10 loads a day, five days a week, say 2500 loads a year. With that little to do, the weighbridge attendant could, presumably, spend part of his or her time doing something else. Nevertheless, at £75 per load, that would bring in £18,750/year.

A large mill might take up to 10 times as many loads. Here the attendant might be expected to be full time but, with an income of up to £190,000/year, the mill could afford that.

What possible excuse can there be for threatening to increase these charges other than blatant profiteering? We are fools if we agree to pay.

R P Headley

Tile Lodge Farm, Hoath Road, Hoath, Canterbury, Kent.

ACCS rates are outrageous

While perusing your excellent web-site FWi, I was interested to read the report concerning the new rates to be charged by Assured Combinable Crops Scheme. I could not help but be amazed at the new charges which they are preparing to levy on small cereal farmers who, although unable to obtain the advantages of economy of scale available to large agribusinesses, are being hammered into the ground. They have to pay the outrageous charge of £3.50/ha for accreditation if they farm 30ha of cereals compared with 70p/ha for the large producer with 250ha of cereals. I have asked the creator of this assurance scheme, NFU if it plans to speak out on behalf of small farmers who are also its members. So far a deafening silence has been the only response. If small producers, who are subscription-paying NFU members want to complain about the unfairness of these charges, it would be advisable to write to either president Ben Gill or the chairman of the cereals committee, Richard Butler.

It would also be interesting to know to which assurance scheme those German grain producers belonged who have been selling grain into the UK, fraudulently pretending it to be organically produced. The incident underlies the belief, held by those of us who are not ACCS members, that no foreign produce will ever be up to the standards of our own first-class British produce, assured or not.

Dick Lindley

Birkwood Farm, Altofts, Normanton, West Yorks.

Haskins view on meat slurry?

It is with surprise that I note the silence observed by Lord Haskins on the subject of mechanically recovered meat in the food chain and potential links to new variant CJD. Surely, as the chairman of Northern Foods and the government advisor on the future of British agriculture, he would be well placed to contribute to the debate.

Produced, apparently, by blasting fragments of waste material from animal bones to produce a tasteless slurry, mechanically recovered meat acts as a cheap filling for pies and burgers but presents an unacceptable level of risk to consumers. Could it be that Northern Foods has profited by the use of this substance? Brands incorporated within the company include Bowyers, Pork Farms, Matthew Walker, Dalepak and Batchelors.

Lord Haskins neither confirms nor denies involvement. But reports from the governments Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee suggest the 25% of companies approached for information have refused to co-operate with their inquiries, even after several years of effort by SEAC. The British Meat Manufacturers Association recently refused to answer questions on the BBC Radio 4s Today programme. Many companies are also claiming that the relevant information has been lost due to management changes.

Is Northern Foods one of these companies afraid of the repercussions? Lord Haskins silence on this subject contrasts with his well reported and outspoken attacks on the British agricultural industry.

The agricultural industry has undergone tortuous change since the onset of the BSE crisis in order to minimise further risk to consumers. The malpractice of certain food processors, however, remains shrouded in mystery. The ultimate irony is that one of the potential perpetrators of this malpractice is now advising the government on the "restructuring" of the rural economy.

S E Dewes

18 Mellowdew Road, Wyken, Coventry.

Farmers wrongly take the blame

Farmers are bearing the brunt of the blame for this governments inadequate handling of foot-and-mouth disease. There has been much in the Press about farmers cashing in, making their fortunes, deliberately spreading the disease and claiming compensation.

Little is reported about MAFF and now DEFRAs spending. Officials and vets stay in top hotels, they have new cars, mobile phones, expenses and stress money. It is farming families that have suffered the stress.

Every farmer has lived in fear since F&M was confirmed in the Essex abattoir. Everyday there has been dread on every livestock farm. For some, their worst nightmares came true. With it came the trauma of seeing all that has been built up, sometimes through generations, torn apart.

We farm in Northumberland and thankfully our stock has so far been spared. Many of our family and friends were not so fortunate. Their experiences can only be described as harrowing.

As if having your animals destroyed was not enough, the cruel and uncaring way in which many were killed, then left lying as a constant reminder, has caused many people much grief. Nearly everyone who had stock taken have a horrifying tale to tell: Animals shot in the open by slaughtermen, animals buried alive or forgotten and left in pens only to be found later barely alive, the wrong farm being culled. The list is endless.

Every countryside business has experienced hardship. Our countryside has never been in such a fragile state. If it is to recover we need a full public inquiry.

Many questions need to be answered. How did this disease arrive? What went wrong in the governments crisis management? Valuable lessons must be learnt from this tragedy that has affected so many lives.

Judith Hart

Ulgham Broom Farm, Ulgham, Morpeth, Northumberland.

DEFRA staff & families suffer

I am married to an animal health officer who is employed by DEFRA and works in Bury St Edmunds. Since March this year, he has been on detached duty in Carlisle where he works as a senior animal health officer managing a team and responsible for cleansing and disinfecting a patch of Cumbria.

I am writing to point out that it is not only the rural community which is directly affected by F&M, but also DEFRA employees and their families. We have three children under the age of seven, and my husband works away for between three to five weeks at a time returning for one week. During that week, if he doesnt wish to take annual leave, he is expected to return to his normal job in the Bury St Edmunds office. During his week at home he has to try to get all the frustrations he faces off his chest, while trying to deal with three excited children and one tired and fed up (that he has been away so long) wife.

Please spare a thought for all who are caught up in this terrible mess.

Lesley Standring

10 Heath Road, Norton, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Parting shot or new attack?

Seventeen new cases of foot-and-mouth in Northumberland; the county where it all started. Is this a blip on the tail of the epidemic, or is it the start of the second lap?

Phillip Bromwell

Rheld Farm, Crickhowell, Powys.

No hiding place from the truth

Far from farmers having knowingly spread foot-and-mouth as alleged by the governments scurrilous spinmaster-generals department, there is a widespread perception that the outbreak was deliberately started and spread by Mr Blairs government on the instructions of its Brussels masters.

The aim was to drastically reduce the burden on the CAP budget of our large sheep population. The government deliberately failed to order early army action and to ring vaccinate as advised by the real experts. It wanted to be sure that a sufficient number sheep and sheep farming businesses would be destroyed.

The perception is that F&M was deliberately introduced into south Wales as long ago as last September, that the disease was transferred in exported sheep to Germany and Belgium but its incidence there was hushed up on EU orders. MAFF and the UK government knew what was going on and were preparing funeral pyres last November onwards to ensure that the disease was spread downwind.

The government fears that if a public inquiry is held, personnel from Porton Down and ex-MAFF will be subpoenaed to testify as to their role. Now that the Human Rights Act is in force, the Official Secrets Act will not shield the government. The OSA exists to protect national security not to serve as a shield for acts of incompetence, negligence and deliberate sabotage by government. When the government is exposed to public scrutiny, it will be exposed to the force of criminal law. In that situation, it is questionable if even this government will be able to remain in office.

Unfortunately, that will be no cause for much celebration, since democracy in Britain has reached such a low ebb that there is patently no opposition worthy of office.

Stuart Pattison

Church Lane, Calstock, Cornwall.

Is farming past being rebuilt?

It is more than six months since the first case of foot-and-mouth and rural Britain is not out of danger yet. I will never forget all the sad stories and photographs about farmers and F&M published in the newspapers and broadcast on television.

It fills me with tears when I think of all the pain it has caused farmers and others who did their part in slaughtering so many animals in order to keep F&M under control. When we finally get rid of this terrible disease, it worries me that because so much damage has been done to farming, the politicians will not be able to rebuild the industry and promote British food.

Whoever gets this job will need courage for it will be like climbing Mount Everest. The public is fed up with farmers problems. It is difficult to trust governments, especially this Labour one. It doesnt use common sense when it imports meat from countries that have had F&M. Moreover British farmers are very successful in producing more than enough meat.

In all walks of life there are bad apples and when the pressure is on to make a living, some people take short cuts. That is when problems occur.

I dont know how best to deal with these people. I do know that for the future of rural Britain, there will be many changes in the industry as a result of F&M. Not only the government, but all of us need better judgment and lots of common sense.

Jim Braid,

Croft House, Bridgend, Perth.

North and south confusion

Your article (Machinery, Aug 17) on the Cotswold Machinery Ring said that the most northern area we covered was South Worcestershire. In fact, we cover South Staffordshire, all of Warwickshire and Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and parts of North Wiltshire. Our telephone number is 0870 7401890. We can be contacted at The Cotswold Machinery Ring Ltd, Freepost SWC3677, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9ZZ.

Paul Hussell

paul@cmr.org.uk

Time to lobby for bio-diesel

I have recently taken an interest in the bio-diesel debate and have a new Audi A2 which will run without modification on bio-diesel. I am surprised that this so called green government is so keen to tax road users out of existence and fine speeding motorists when it is economically viable to do so.

We have a farming crisis and a rural economy desperate for a cash-rich society to help it reduce reliance on subsidies.

What better solution than to push the bio-diesel lobby to meet the needs of the nation by getting bio-diesel to the market within two years?

Small production units could be set up to let rural communities have access to an economic product in a location where commercial petrochemical

companies find it expensive to deliver. Small farmers and growers should be encouraged to set up small processing plants to pump prime the need for the product.

As diesel vehicles are now in the ascendancy, so the pressure from users for alternative fuels to LPG and the electric car will grow rapidly.

Graham Owen

grahamowen@orange.net

Thatching straw can make cash

On average, forecast yields are usually lower, and estimated costs are always higher than the pre-harvest guesses. This year they were even further out, which, even the 25% grain price increase, doesnt cover. But, like Marie Skinner (Talking Point, Aug 24) with her sugar beet, we also have a profitable crop to help shoulder the break-crop losses.

25 years ago, we switched from potatoes to thatching straw. To start with, it was like escaping from being taken hostage and landing in quicksand. Anything more than a Scotch mist or force 2 winds, knocks the long straw over and renders it useless. This year we lost 37ha but still managed to harvest 1543 round bales. They sell for £330/t plus VAT. However, if area payments cease, which looks very likely, we will have to drop the practice of delivering to new customers via the Roller.

George Scales

Cobblers Pieces, Abbess Roding, Ongar, Essex.

Wolves after sugar beet

Your In Brief item (Business, Aug 24) reports a questionable situation regarding the price of sugar beet as farmers face a severe winter crisis.

Cargill Banks, a monopoly organisation, has announced a £13/t increase in the price of sugar beet pellets. Already these are at a falsely high price, due to a large increase a year or two ago, on the grounds that the price should be more in line with other feeds, rather than remaining at a cost plus basis.

In times of crisis there are always wolves who move in to take advantage of the victims. Sugar beet is a valuable sheep feed which farmers will need to buy to keep the surplus stock they are forced to retain. Citrus pulp is not a feed that cows or sheep would voluntarily eat; it needs to be disguised in mixtures.

What puzzles me is the existence of a monopoly that controls the major part of the world grain trade and now expands further into the seed trade, having the right to control prices. But farmers, under the WTO free trade regulations, pay a fixed price on inputs. And they are not allowed to control the price of their produce to cover costs of production.

Our previous government signed away farmers rights to such control.

It is amazing that Milk Marque was disbanded on the grounds of being a monopoly while world monopolies like Cargill Banks are accepted. Obviously there are separate rules for the really big boys.

Jose MacDonald

Farming and Livestock Concern UK, Penlan Fach, Llangain, Carmarthen.

In the name of charity

Now that farmings future is to be trusted to a committee containing single interest charities like the RSPB, it suggests that its high profile, costly PR and continual lobbying of MPs, here and in Brussels over the years, has paid off.

The unseemly rush of New Labour, to jump on the environmentally friendly, conservation caravan and get into bed with very wealthy registered charities, could suggest that further scrutiny by the Charities Commission might prove rewarding.

The picture of farming being controlled by single issue power groups, intent on feathering their own nests, will paint a gloomy future for farming or any of its inter-related industries.

The deviousness of this charity combined with Labours urban green-wellied evangelists, fully illustrates their intended manipulation of farming and the countryside for their own ends. All farmers now know that this anti-farming duet, are both chirping from the same hymn sheet.

Simon Bennett Evans

Glanrhyd, Llangurig, Llanidloes, Powys.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

Keep heads up, home spud processors told

Dont imagine Dutch, Belgian and French producers can grow processing potatoes more cheaply than UK growers.

They may have pushed surplus product across the Channel but they are losing money and are unlikely to continue.

That was the heartening message from the British Potato Council to growers at a packed British Potato 2001 event. With the processing market growing at 4% a year, and set to overtake the fresh market by 2005, its a message worth noting.

The focus for our potato industry should be to strip out costs and fine tune production in partnership with processors. That will play to the UKs greatest strength; an ability to work with end users. The continental industry has no such strength.

The future may be tough, but it is winnable.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

RECRUITMENTDRIVEONFORDIRECTSUPPLY

DEMAND for an extra 200-300m litres of milk from Express Dairies next year will see a recruitment drive for more direct supply producers launched at the Dairy Event.

Express Milk Partnership add significantly to its current 1200 suppliers, says vice chairman Jonathan Ovens.

He expects milk price to be a key issue for producers it aims to attract and points out that since deregulation Express Milk Partnership – and its predecessor Northern Milk Partnership, has consistently outperformed all of the co-ops. "I dont see this changing, so there are opportunities for producers wanting the best return for their milk with EMP."

He also believes that producers interests are better served by investing in maximising profitability at home than in processing capacity. "This will help maintain our competitiveness as an industry. Surely the priority is to put money into farms, and not into unwanted processing capacity."

All milk producers are invited to discuss the benefits of a direct supply arrangement at the co-ops Dairy Event stand.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

This informal friendship club has more than 60 groups

nationwide and is open to all female readers of FW.

Details from Jean Howells (0208-652 4927)

BERWICKSHIRE/ NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND

Wed, Sep 19, 7.30pm. Meet at Eileen Todds home, Barelees, Cornhill on Tweed for a talk on jewellery by Mrs Thompson of Berwick. Contact Eileen

(01890-882356) by Sep 18.

HEREFORD-SOUTH

Tue, Sep 18, 2.30pm. Meet at the Community Centre, Ledbury for a talk Emergency Services of the Red Cross and WRVS by Peter Gray. Contact Thelma Green (01989-567337).

STAFFORDSHIRE

Tue, Sep 18, 2pm. Meet at Harlaston village hall for Boots The Chemist cosmetic talk followed by strawberry tea. Cake and preserve stall in aid of RABI. Friends welcome. Contact Elizabeth Calcott

(01827-62265).

Thu, Oct 4, 10.30am. Meet Stour Valley group at Shugborough Hall, Milford for tour of hall and lunch. Coffee on arrival. Names to Jean Simkin (01902-731787) by Sep 27. Jean Howells hopes to be there.

WORCESTERSHIRE

Tue, Sep 25, 10.30 for 11am. Visit to Bodenham Arboretum, Wolverley near Kidderminster. Cost £4.50. Husbands and partners welcome. Contact

Chris Fellows (01384-872208).

News and views from the

north, south, east and

west are all to be found

in the latest edition of

the Farm Womens Club

magazine. Members will

have received a copy.

If you would like to read

the articles on

gardening, cookery and

holidays, plus updates

from the county

correspondents,

telephone Jean Howells

(020-8652 4927)

to find out more about

Farm Womens Club.

    Read more on:
  • News

Archive Article: 2001/09/14

14 September 2001

ADASSERVICE GOESONLINE

ADAS milk cheque service is going online this autumn which will help herd management by allowing business decisions to be made earlier.

The new service – MCI – being launched at the Dairy Event allows producers to input data through the website and generate reports within seconds, says ADAS Interactives Neil Giles.

"In addition, current herd performance can be displayed using graphs allowing a quick comparison with herd forecasts. Online reports also cut down on paper lying around the farm office."

However, Mr Giles assures thatthe existing milk cheque service will be available to those who prefer a paper-based service to monitor herd performance.

MCI offers different features including the widely used technical service providing simple costs and milk outputs. Further features available allow gross margins and unit production costs to be monitored over time.

The online service costs £8-15, depending on selected options. Certain features on the new service will cost less than the existing service due to lower administration costs, he adds. &#42

    Read more on:
  • News
blog comments powered by Disqus