Archive Article: 2002/05/10 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Right: For the past 18 years Gwen Charles (second from left) has run the Gwent FWC and over that time she has made some very good friends. This was evident in the leaving gift that was presented to her – a log basket full of individual gifts from each member. She has handed the reins over to Marilyn Morris (far right) who is sure to keep the club going well.

Right: Somerset-Mendip FWC recently met for lunch at Trudoxhill Barn, Somerset, and were treated to a fashion display by Weekenders.

The show was

put on by Linda Vaus, who modelled the clothes with great panache and had a lot of fun demonstrating how these versatile

clothes can

be styled in various ways with a different look each time they are worn.

Right: Glasbury on Wye FWC meets in what is possibly the oldest Scout Hut in the country. As I drove up I was greeted by Pam Bretherton who was so surprised to see me after such a long absence. Inside in front of a blazing log fire members were treated to an interesting and enthusiastic talk by Gwyneth Davies. Her subject was the old painting called Salem by Curnow Vosper which is well known for its depiction of Welsh national dress.

Jean Howells

This informal friendship club has more than 60 groups nationwide and is open to

all female readers of FW. Details from Jean Howells (020-8652 4927)


Wed, May 22, 12 noon. Meet at Mortgrove Farm, Lilley for lunch and talk. Contact Tricia Shaw (01582-881203).


Mon, May 20, 7.30pm. Meet at Ty Brith, Bontuchel for a talk Gardening by Generys Edwards. Contact

Gwyneth Jones (01490-420351).


Tue, May 21, 12.30pm. Meet at Stainsby Old School for talk Sale and Hire of Hats, Handbags and Jewellery by Jane Mary. Friends invited, buffet lunch provided £5.50. Contact Eileen Bryan (01246-850476) or Elizabeth Ottewell (01246-851553) by May 17.


Thu, Jul 11, 10.30am. Meet at Bulmer Brickworks for tour of factory. Bring a plate lunch for afterwards at Great Henny village hall. Afternoon tour of gardens and tea at Flood Gates and Street Farm Great Henny. Contact Laureen (01787-228259). Jean Howells hopes to be there.


Tue, May 14, 8am. Coach leaves Hereford Leisure Centre for visit to Belvoir Castle. Contact Sylvia Hill (01885-483261) or Connie Jones (01568-760240).


Wed, May 15, 10.30am. Meet in Quarr Abbey car park for tour. Contact

Margaret Harrhy (01983-840156).


Wed, May 15, 12 noon. Meet at Marlenes home, Crooked Chimneys. Bring a plant or more, potted and named please. Proceeds to Air Ambulance.

Contact Marlene (01732-810726).


Thu, May 23, 12.30pm. Meet at Kenwick Park Hotel for lunch followed by visit to Lincs Rural Activity Centre. Contact Pat Needham (01507-327549) by May 18.


Tue, May 14, 10.30am. Meet at Lisa Catlings home for a talk by Jan Withers on her work in DSS. Contact

Lisa (01263-833288).


Mon, May 13, 11am. Meet at The Mill Hempnall for talk The Air Ambulance. Plate lunch. Bring and buy stall. Contact

Liz Allen (01508-499357).


Mon, May 20. Coach trip to Cotehele House and gardens, near Saltash, Cornwall. Friends and husbands welcome. If any members from Mendip, Taunton or Cornwall would like to join us, we would love to have you along. Contact

Sylvia Reed (01749-812768).


Wed, May 22, 11.30am. Meet at The Flower Barn, Bull House Farm, Penistone for flower arranging demonstration and lunch. Contact Jane Fearn

(0114 246 7505) asap.


Tue, May 21, 12 noon for 12.30pm. Meet at Dunnington Reading Room for plate lunch with Skipton group followed by talk by Jennifer Hornsey. Contact

Mary Liversidge (01759-371140) or

Joan Hall (01757-248592).

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Perths first official May multi-breed sale was a good one. Top price on the day went to this Charolais bull Mossermains Rastus from Mosser Mains Farm, Cockermouth, Cumbria, which sold to 6200gns. In total, 63 bulls sold to averages comprising 22 Charolais, which levelled at £3171; 19 Limousins at £2779; and eight Simmental at £2191.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

May 11 Emigration sale of MF tractors, Kramer telehandler, Land Rover TDi, silage trailers and grassland kit. Also produce. Hope Valley, Derbys. Bagshaws (01889-562811)

May 11 Sale of vintage and antique agricultural with general memorabilia and effects. Leighton, Powys. Halls (01743-231212)

May 13 Sale of 300 Holsteins from Horkesley and Moorplace herds including 40 cows with best yields in excess of 9000kgs from commercially managed systems. Hatherleigh, Devon. Norton & Brooksbank/KVN Stockdale (01285-841333)

May 14 Sale of JD and MF tractors, Dowdeswell six-furrow ploughs, extensive range of arable machinery, trailers and miscellaneous items. Buntingford, Herts. Cheffins (01223-358731)

May 14 Dispersal of NMR recorded Holstein Friesian dairy cattle with average yield of 6777kgs, TB-free March 2002, machinery and dairy equipment. Callington, Cornwall. Kivells (01409-253275)

May 15 Sale of JD tractor, Claas combine, fork lift, trailers, arable machinery, grassland kit and effects. Ide, Devon. Husseys (01392-250441)

May 15 Border & Lakeland Holstein Club sale including final milking portion of Nortonhall herd and 2001 heifers from Bromstead herd. Borderway Mart, Carlisle. Harrison & Hetherington (01228-490590)

May 16 Dispersal sale of NH tractors, Simba discs and press, furrow press, mini balers, grain drying and storage kit, JCB and Subaru pick-up. Meysey Hampton, Glos. Dreweatt Neate (01635-553500)

May 16 Dispersal sale of commercial Holstein herd with Charolais and Simmental stock bulls. Also range of grassland kit. Nantwich, Cheshire. Wright Manley (01829-262100)

May 16 Sale of 100 Holsteins from the Ingham and Joelee herds based in East Anglia featuring 38 young cows and heifers in milk and 40 served heifers to top sires. Kirkby Thore, Cumbria. Norton & Brooksbank (01285-841333)

May 17 Dispersal sale of 115 pure-bred British Friesians with 85 cows in milk, 10 heifers and 20 dry cows. Average yields of 6500 litres at 4.1% fat and 3.41% protein. Great Burden, Co Durham. Geo F White (01665-603231)

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Facing the public…NFU deputy president Tim Bennett launching this years NFU Food and Farming Roadshow at the School Farm Fair in Suffolk on Thursday (May 2). Farmer and roadshow presenter Johnny Ball plans to be on the road for the next five months, visiting city UK centres. He will be demonstrating the NFUs new kids web-site,, and giving away a free goody bag.

Club goody bag. This year the roadshow has been sponsored by Sainsburys, the Crop Protection Association, and Ford.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Dont overlook sunny Spain as an option

Disillusioned with farming in the UK? Inclement weather, rock-bottom prices and an indifferent government can take their toll.

Its not surprising therefore to find more farmers looking for opportunities abroad. Most seek their farming fortunes in other English-speaking countries such as Canada and New Zealand. Others prefer a shorter journey to farmer-friendly France.

So far, Spain has been overlooked. But as our Spanish Special, starting on page 28 shows, farming in the sun can be lucrative and foreign investors are more than welcome.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Waless happy knack of gaining EU cash

Congratulations to MLC Wales for seizing the initiative to launch a new beef and sheep farming development plan in Wales to help improve producers profits. Are English producers missing out?

Wales has secured £ms in EU-funding despite technology transfer being well co-ordinated through Welsh Sheep Strategy and Farming Connect run by the Welsh Development Agency.

Compare that with the help available to producers in England. Although some local schemes in the south-west and organisations, such as the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, try hard, similar money is unavailable. So why not similar schemes to help English beef and lamb succeed in an increasingly competitive market?

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Ear, ear! John Wannop checks Soissons winter wheat drilled on Oct 13 at Waytes Court Farm, Brighstone, Isle of Wight. Ears were well emerged by last Saturday, the crop having had its T2 flag-leaf spray earlier in April. Elsewhere, wheats are only just reaching the T2 flag leaf emerged growth stage, with severe septoria pressure prompting calls to adopt a robust spray mix.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Advice & cash boost for early potatoes

Farm-fresh early potatoes were on sale in your local supermarket earlier than ever before this year. Its a wonderful way of making the most of local demand and exploiting the appetite of big retailers for something new.

But delivering such a market-winning result is not easy. Fortunately, help was at hand in the forms of agronomy advice and an objective 1 grant from Brussels to install a packing facility.

Not only have the recipients won the chance to boost margins, they have also displaced imported product, given customers what they want from a local farm and slashed food miles. Given the right marketing support, how many more could benefit from similar innovative thinking?

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Is tough biosecurity a step too far?

The Royal Shows decision to cancel its sheep classes is a sad indictment of the tough biosecurity measures governing events.

No one wants to see foot-and-mouth return, but some of the measures required have added to confusion over showing. Why, when we are clear of F&M, do judges have to wash their hands between judging Simmental and Charolais classes?

Although the government is happy to see ramblers walking through fields grazing livestock, it has made public contact with show stock impossible. Yet more than 80% of show-goers visit to see livestock, according to surveys.

Farming desperately needs the opportunity shows provide to engage the public and gain its support. Over elaborate biosecurity measures will serve only to further alienate public opinion.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Sharing research a real cash saver

Organic farmers suffer similar economic pressures to conventional producers. So why should scientists working in both sectors operate in such isolation? Co-operation, where appropriate, could help to realise the widest value of specific discoveries and benefit the UK as a whole.

Not least, looking for overlaps in scientific studies could help to make the most of limited research budgets.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Gold star indeed for BPCs potato event

Technical events rarely win awards. But the BPC deserves a gold star for staging a truly professional, well-focused Potato Storage event at its Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit in Lincs last week.

Plenty of practical advice, clear presentations and experts on hand ensured visitors received good value for money from the £300,000 invested in storage research each year. Net cost to growers? Just 7p/t of potatoes stored.

Although the cereal and potato industries differ in value, technology and the number of growers involved, there are lessons the HGCA could learn from such a well-run exercise in relaying technical messages to growers.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Reducing the risk of infection being transported into Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit provided cleaning equipment company Hugh Crane with an opportunity to demonstrate its Commando Sentry drive through vehicle disinfecting system. Vehicles passing over a pad activate the disinfectant system which then sprays the wheels and underside as it passes through. With systems to accommodate all classes of vehicle and a choice of mains or battery power, prices start at £4200.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Flexi-Coil has redesigned the weight transfer system for its five-section, 12.3m Cambridge rolls. Weighing in at 10t, the new system is claimed to equalise weight distribution across the implements whole working width of the implement. The company has also changed the rolls hydraulic folding mechanism and now uses support chains to take the strain off the pivots. Folding horizontally rather than vertically is said to result in a more stable unit when the rolls are transported. Options include a choice of Cambridge or Cambridge breaker rolls which can be 508mm or 610mm in diameter. Price start at £15,600.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Charlie King is a 19-year-

old first year, studying an

HND in Agriculture at

Bicton College in Devon

ITS been another hectic month both at home and at college.

I was selected for – and have attended – a meeting with DEFRAs South West Rural Affairs Forum, which looked at issues involved with legislation and its implications on rural communities.

This is a great opportunity to air my current concerns in agriculture and act as a voice for the young rural community of the south-west.

It was, however, quite a daunting prospect, with most people in the room boasting more letters after their name than the average alphabet.

The only letters after my name were those that made up the word "student". Quite how this qualifies my values I am not sure, but Im not complaining.

At college, I watched and performed the rather painful-looking practice of castrating beef calves. The dairy calves, meanwhile, were subjected to disbudding – a practice Im more familiar with from experience at home. On the fieldwork front, we hope to be let loose with a seed drill to have a go at maize drilling. Thankfully at home, ours is safely in the ground.

Im really pleased with the option modules that Ill be doing next year – dairy herd management and forage management, with combinable and root crops and woodland management in the final semester.

Im baffled as to why, but since Easter, I have moved from Room 4 to Room 16 in the same block. The answer probably lies somewhere deep in the depths of the Bicton administration system.

On the subject of moving, as a family weve been considering selling our farm in Dorset to buy a larger dairy unit in Wales to create scope for myself and my brother to farm in partnership in the future. This would make Bicton seem like suddenly a long way away from "home".

Perhaps this would mean me doing a degree top-up at Harper Adams, an interesting prospect if the account of life there by my fellow College Calendar writer Kate is anything to go by.

The other option we are considering is renting a farm locally, though my course manager will tell me that all this time might be better spent studying.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Joe Lawson, chairman of the association of past Harper Adams students in Ireland, returns the framed Minton tile to chairman of governors Tony Burgess. The tile, datemarked 1856, once belonged to Thomas Harper Adams, the founder of the Shropshire college. It hung in a farmhouse on the site until it was "liberated" by a past student 40 years ago. The handover took place at the recent Harper Adams in Ireland Centennial Dinner in Portlaoise.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Farming families are now able to benefit from cash grants thanks to a scheme launched today by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and farmers weekly. Its simple to apply for, confidential and can offer the free cash boost youre looking for in these tough times

RABI and farmers weekly have teamed up to offer hard-pressed farming families across the UK a helping hand. The two organisations have designed a grant scheme to get cash to farming families to help with household bills or other domestic expenses.

Many farming families are facing such pressures at the moment. Problems have arisen due to all manner of reasons – it might be a result of foot-and-mouth or low returns in the arable sector. Alternatively, they might be due to an illness or injury to a breadwinner or possibly even the breakdown in a family relationship.

Whatever your circumstances, however, the RABI/FW Grant Scheme could make a big difference, relieving some of your immediate financial worries.

The grants can be a single lump-sum or a series of payments. And while the RABIs charter (and Charities Com-mission rules) mean this financial support cannot cover business expenses, essential expenditure on the family home is eligible.

This scheme can, therefore, provide money for a huge variety of items – fuel, telephone and food bills, to give just three examples.

And every £ that you can get through the scheme to spend on such items, means youll have to find one less £ of your own money for your business.

Every application will, of course, be handled completely confidentially. Farming families are – and always have been – proud, resilient and independent and you may view asking for support as a sign of failure. But try not to.

For generations, farmers have worked incredibly hard for modest rewards. And the current circumstances are exceptional, with a whole series of events having conspired against the industry. Incomes have dropped to their lowest for generations, bringing money worries to homes where such worries have never occurred before.

The RABI/FW Grant Scheme could give you the chance to sow the seeds of a better, more prosperous future. Our two organisations have, between us, been serving the farming community for more than 200 years and we hope this initiative will play a part in the long-awaited farming recovery.

People who have already been helped by RABI cash say the hardest thing was asking in the first place. Once theyve done that, they often experience a huge sense of relief that their problems will at last be shared by someone who will listen and understand.

Theyll also tell you that, if the request for financial help had been made earlier, the suffering would have been reduced.

So, if you think youd benefit, please dont delay. Get in touch now. Farmers, farm managers, farm workers and their families are all eligible to apply. Application is, of course, no guarantee of approval, but all applications will be carefully considered, in a bid to ensure money is dispatched to as many of those who are eligible as possible.

To apply, call the relevant number (on the opposite page) and a member of RABIs experienced, trained and sympathetic staff will send you details and an application form.

Many thousands of people have already taken advantage of RABI cash. Members of the public donated the money generously to RABI to help farmers because they know what a vital role you play in feeding the nation and caring for the countryside.

They gave it to RABI to give to you. Thats what its there for. The RABI/FW Grant Scheme will hopefully help play a part in this process.

&#8226 In Scotland, the Scheme is available via the Royal Scottish Benevolent Insti-tution (RSABI).

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

The new edition of the Equine Business Guide has been published by Warwickshire College.

The booklet, a source of business benchmarking data, is a "unique and invaluable" management tool, according to editor Richard Bacon.

It features facts and

figures on such areas as horse enterprise

performance, costs and prices, labour and


"The use and

application of relevant business data

distinguishes the

proactive proprietor from the reactive one," says Mr Bacon. Copies of the guide, priced £18, can be obtained by calling 01926-318340.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Getting to grips with safety… Young Farmers Clubs across Wiltshire took part in the recent Efficiency with Safety event at Thickthorn Farm, Lyneham.

The day featured first aid demos by representatives from St John Ambulance charity.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Assurance schemes are unfair

Your correspondent, Mr Pestell, in his letter (April 26) "Whats wrong with our corn?" accurately and precisely voiced the disgust and concern felt by those independent-minded British farmers who refuse to join these tiresome, expensive and unfair assurance schemes.

It is appalling that our feed manufacturers and millers should prefer to buy non-assured imported grains, from growers who cannot possibly be members of British assurance schemes. But at the same time they refuse to consider buying top quality British grain from non-assured farms.

It would be interesting to know how those manufacturers can claim that feedstuffs which contain non-assured imported grain can be legitimately fed to cattle, pigs and sheep which are produced under the livestock assurance schemes. Assured meat products from these animals, displaying the little red tractor logo, is then sold to consumers.

The scenario seems to be deceitful to say the least. If they are unable to produce documentary evidence that all the contents of their feedstuffs are assured, is it a breech of the trades description act, and should trading standards officers be concerned?

Unfair and anti-British schemes should be replaced with a new label and logo: "Grown and produced in Great Britain by Great British farmers." It should also carry the Union flag emblazoned across all retail packaging.

Dick Lindley

Birkwood Farm, Altofts, Normanton, West Yorks.

Biosecurity is still important

Your recent issue highlighting biosecurity (Opinion and Livestock, Apr 19) was a timely reminder to all those who work on or visit farms of the need to stop the spread of diseases on and between farms.

Last year biosecurity became synonymous with the fight to control the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. Unfortunately, that lead to some farmers to link the precautions solely with F&M control rather than their farms direct and continued benefit.

Often advice on this most important subject ends with farmers eyes starting to glaze over. Just mentioning the B word at meetings seems to be a better cure for insomnia than counting sheep.

I know your erudite readers like a challenge and are always full of good ideas.

I wonder if they might be able to come up with a new word which would better encompass the importance of biosecurity for every farm, stockperson, farmer and farm visitor as well as give some dynamism to the concept and save it from being hijacked by F&M.

Tony Andrews

Acorn House, 25 Mardley Hill, Welwyn, Herts.

Wake up call for England

What are we doing in Europe? The French and Germans have not done anything for us and have always looked after their own. We are going to lose our sovereignty and all that Britain stands for – fair play, justice, compassion and integrity. Are we going to stand by and see it all go down the drain?

Also, why should we copy the United States with its greed, shallowness, crime and violence? Years ago Europhiles would have been hung, drawn and quartered.

We had the worlds best and most sustainable farmers and bred the best livestock.

Look what happens when the Americans get hold of our breeds. They ruined the British Friesians with the Holstein, besides importing diseases.

All politicians want is cheap food to be achieved by screwing the Third World farmers into the ground. Then the plan is to pay them charity similar to English farmers.

Our NFU leadership is weak and I understand it originally supported the Animal Health Bill whereby DEFRA could kill all your livestock without notice or appeal. Thank goodness it was turned down by the House of Lords.

The NFU will eventually have to listen to its members instead of Tony Blair. So wake up England before it is too late.

KA Luscombe

Appledore, Broadhempston, Nr Totnes, Devon.

New meaning to price war

What does it take to make farmers speak up? It is a fact that the average UK ex-farm price of beef in 2000 was exactly the same as 1981!

Likewise, the UK average price of lamb in 2000 was the same as in 1985. Why do we accept that? Why dont farmers write to their MPs and complain about agricultural prices? Their salaries are index-linked. Ask them if they will return to 1981 salaries.

Get your pens out and write to whoever will listen. If they do not want to listen, make them listen. Harangue them, pester them, but dont accept things as they are. If you do nothing it is your fault. Lets all wake up and act.

L J Jenkins

Clyn-yr-Ynys, Gwbert, Cardigan.

Too much milk being produced

How many more milk price cuts will there be before dairy farmers realise that continually increasing production is the cause of the problem not the cure?

Too much milk is produced from fewer farms.

The main reason is the Holstein cow. Like another well-meaning import, the grey squirrel, this animal has indirectly wreaked havoc on the indigenous species. Most dairy breeds are capable of producing five or six gallons at little input cost. The Holstein doubtless produces twice that amount but at immeasurable cost.

The main beneficiaries of this breed have been the scientists who have had fun playing with the genetics, the breeders who sell them and the feed companies providing vast amounts of food to sate their voracious appetites. Then there are the machinery and building manufacturers fabricating all sorts of wacky machinery and empires of asbestos to accommodate them. Lets not forget the drug companies devising all manner of potions to enable the beast to stand upright on concrete or to reproduce itself.

It must now be time for dairy farmers to return to a native breed of cow more suited to this country and its climate albeit producing less milk but at far less cost. An underlying shortage is more likely to engender a reasonable price than the present surplus. At 16p per litre the alternative, hoping our neighbour retires to make more room for oneself, it not a viable option.

AG Hammond

Upton Bottom Farm, East Knoyle, Salisbury, Wilts.

NFU needs a serious rival

I have to respond to all the contributions regarding the establishment of an arable association. I am not a total supporter of the idea of an arable association because the government and the media listen only to those who are the biggest or who shout the loudest.

If a separate organisation is set up, it will only dilute the force that the NFU can take with it to the corridors of power. There is no way the government would discuss matters with a small arable organisation. But if such an organisation were set up, it would be worthwhile because it would give the NFU a resounding kick. For too long, the NFU has arrogantly assumed that it is the only farming organisation. In taking such a defensive strategy it has led to some of the biggest setbacks to hit farming for many generations.

How many more times must we listen to the Soil Association knock conventional farming in the media? We all know that organic farming has no serious future as a large-scale food producer for the nation. But because of the associations offensive strategy it is blindly supported by Whitehall and Fleet Street.

If the NFU stopped thinking about itself and started thinking about the wider picture it would gain more respect from the farmers who it is supposed to represent. The one piece of good it has done is the little red tractor.

Jim Powell

White Cottage, Fulford Farm, Culworth, Oxon.

NFU, too much we know best

I write as an ex-member who left the NFU with sadness following foot-and-mouth. Its handling of the crisis did not impress me and the last straw was when it failed to consult members before deciding not to press for a public inquiry despite the apparent overwhelming number of members who wanted one.

I wish those who are demanding more openness and democracy the best of luck. But I fear that there is such an inbred culture of "we know best" rather than listening to the grass root members that little will be achieved.

Ian Stevenson

Court Lodge, Whitton, Nr. Ludlow, Shropshire.

Government support lacking

I remember when the Conservatives and the now Lord Walker of Worcester was farm minister and encouraged farmers in the early 1980s to produce all they could. Grants were duly made available for new buildings. But what do we witness under New Labour?

We have suffered flooding and foot-and-mouth with all its consequences for rural life. Now with another spring, secretary of state, Margaret Beckett is outlining DEFRAs considerations of the food and farming commissions report.

We should not forget how governments have treated the diminishing farming structure and the lack of support for the younger generation trying to get a foothold in farming. How can a living and working countryside be forthcoming when market forces dictate otherwise?

John E Willett

Future of Rural Society, 14 Eastgate Road, Holmes Chapel, Cheshire.

Five aspects to our march

Charlie Flindt (Talking Point, Apr 26) is wrong to insist that the Countryside Alliance march should be about hunting, and hunting alone. To say that we are "pretending" it to be otherwise is naïve. Please be clear that anyone who does not subscribe to all five principles of our march – including the right for people to decide for themselves whether they hunt – will not be welcome on it.

We need a sustainable, diverse and tolerant countryside. The alliance, as one of the main lobbying organisations on countryside issues, has a vital role to play in making this a reality. While our focus must be on hunting at present, because of the distorted rural priorities of Westminster, we remain determined to press ahead with constructive policy development and community project activities. Unfortunately, we have no control over the media, which appears more interested in hearing from us on hunting, than about progressive ideas that help rural people.

Our work on farming co-operatives, which Mr Flindt saw on our web-site but failed to read, is a priority determined by the recent Curry report. Reading beyond the headlines on modulation would reveal that we are suggesting new solutions to age-old problems. Farmers dont want to lose 20% of their subsidies – so we have proposed that modulated money stays on-farm, and that farmers have access to it in return for meeting environmental and social commitments.

Politicians are largely ignoring the real problems and priorities of the countryside. When they do show interest, it is usually in doing things to, rather than for, rural people. Hunting has become the touchstone for rural communities anger and frustration – and our politicians will assuredly find this out when we bring hundreds of thousands of people to London on Sept 22.

Fiona Davies

Policy development team, Countryside Alliance, London.

Co-ops best at marketing

The recent sad news of the problems with Viking Cereals (Opinion and Business, Apr 19) does nothing to help our industry regain the initiative and get itself back on an even keel. Our thoughts are with those farmer members involved.

It is vitally important though, that we as farmers and growers do not forget the fact that grain co-operatives trade our physical grain. We must not leave our grain marketing to a few multinational companies whose only interest is their shareholders dividend.

The grain co-operatives market a significant proportion of the UK cereal crop and are a significant link between the grower and the end-user. Marketing physical grain to its best advantage is what these companies do best and that means more money to the grower. Trading on the futures market is a risky business because just as surely as someone makes a pound then someone else loses one.

The government is encouraging us to market our product through collaborative marketing structures and become more responsible for our income through added value and closer contact with the end-user. Credit insurance and regular financial monitoring as well as good group management all help safeguard the farmers interests.

Farming does not get much encouragement from government but here is a marketing structure that is being actively encouraged.

The demise of Viking Cereals could just as easily have happened to any commercial company. We would do well to support our grain co-operatives. They market on behalf of the farmer.

William Antrobus

Chairman, Severn Grain, Greenways Farm, Shawbury Lane, Fillongley, Coventry.

Cows are cause of bovine TB

As a former member of the governments badgers and TB consultative panel, I am saddened but unsurprised at the present cattle TB crisis and renewed calls for more badger culls.

The crisis demonstrates that the problem has been a bovine one all along, with spillover to badgers, deer and even farm cats and dogs. The pivotal misunderstanding is that it takes a year for cattle to reach the infectious reactor stage. That is why cattle TB schemes must include two elements. First, annual testing to allow removal of TB cases before they can pass it on to other cattle or badgers to any great extent. Repeat tests may also be needed.

Second, acknowledgement that this is partly why the TB test is only 80% accurate. Movement bans are the only guaranteed way to stop TB getting into TB-free areas, via missed cattle.

The present upsurge in cattle TB started at the peak of BSE when MAFF was overstretched. Longer test intervals were brought in, fewer cattle were tested, and massive movement of replacement stock started the spread into TB-free areas.

DEFRA has been overstretched with foot-and-mouth, and with no TB tests for 10 months, plus cattle kept in over-winter as long as possible to avoid F&M, has allowed TB build-up within herds. Restocking has already taken TB into Cumbria and south-west Scotland. The disease is now appearing in areas in Wales and the Midlands, TB-free for 30-50 years due to missed cattle seeding new clusters, with contiguous spread across inadequate fencing into herds closed for years. Spread has also occurred via hire bulls, slurry, rats, possibly even relief milkers.

M Hancox,

17 Nouncells Cross, Stroud, Glos.

Pollution cure removes rights

I refer to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. How many more times do we have to read about people in pinstriped suits who do not contribute anything to the country, apart from taking peoples rights away and criticising hardworking farmers?

After 30 years hard farm work, I wonder if the people who work for the Royal Commission are in the same boat as farmers? We have recently suffered years of BSE, foot-and-mouth and all sorts of government interference. Dont these people realise that this could be a good case for the Court of Human Rights if the government takes away rights which farmers have enjoyed for 50 years?

The farmers I know often go heavily into debt to put up new buildings to try to improve their business and produce quality food that this country enjoys.

If the Royal Commission is serious about this countryside not being polluted, it should advise English Partnerships which is another arm of the government to stop giving itself planning permission on green field sites and then selling the land to developers for large sums of money.

I hope farmers never go on strike but then people in pinstriped suits, who never get their hands dirty, may realise the importance of the farmers.

John Bryan

Birchtree Farm, Red Lane, Appleton, Warrington, Cheshire.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002



Have you a tip to share with our readers which could save both time and money. farmers weeklys Machinery desk is offering £50 for each idea we publish.

This weeks Tip of the Week is provided by Bill Leiper, who farms near Clacton on Sea in Essex.

Mr Leiper runs a straw burner to heat water for the farmhouses central heating system. After 17 years use, the automatic stoker for the burner, which comprises a guillotine and five hydraulic rams became worn and started to leak.

The guillotine was replaced with a 28cm long, 15cm diameter gas pipe and fitted with combine cutter bar knives to form the cutting drum. The drum is powered by a 3hp electric motor with Vee belts – and a grill with 45mm spacings was added to ensure straw is small enough to enter the burner.

To convey straw to the burner, Mr Leiper fitted a 15cm diameter auger.

"The end result is brilliant," says Mr Leiper. "Straw now burns more easily because it is not so compressed, and there are no annoying oil leaks."

Send a brief description of your Tip of the Week to: Machinery editor, farmers weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS.

Sponsored by Kverneland

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

CHEESEMAKER Sandra Allwood has won the coveted Farm Diversification category in Country Livings Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Sandra, whose husband Mike is known to farmers weekly readers as a past Farmer Focus contributor, founded Ravens Oak Dairy in Cheshire in 1999.

"I absolutely love cheesemaking," says Sandra, who collected the award at the recent Country Living Spring Fair in London.

It marks one of a host of prizes netted by the Burland-based team – the first few coming almost immediately after the business started. "I thought at first it was luck – I never thought wed be able to replicate that success," says Sandra.

Burland Green brie, made from the Allwoods organic cows milk, is the dairys "flagship" cheese. "It has an excellent texture which softens as it ages and sometimes runs. The interior is a lovely golden colour with a deep mushroom aroma."

Her personal favourite, however, is the Whitehaven goat brie. "Smooth and soft, it has a subtle flavour hinting of almonds and white wine when young which evolves into a superb depth of character as it matures," is how she describes it.

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Archive Article: 2002/05/10

10 May 2002

Bravo cattle are not the only bovines raised at El Romeral, where about 450 meat-producing animals are also kept to produce weaned calves for the open market.

Of these, 350 are pure Retinta, a native Andalucian breed, dark red in colour with open lyre horns.

Most are crossed with a Limousin or Charolais bull and the calves sold on at six months old for further fattening. At this stage the weaned bull calves are worth about k480/head (£294) and the females about k390/head (£238).

But about 100 of the Retintas are put to a Retinta bull to produce potential breeding stock. While the pure-bred bull calves fetch a more modest k420/head (£257) at six months, the females are much more valuable and are normally retained as replacements.

The rest of the breeding herd – about 100 animals – is made up of Retinta/Limousin crosses, which are put to a Limousin bull.

There is also a Charolais bull, which is used to cover some of the Bravo fighting cattle. The lighter coloured calves this cross produces command a higher price than the darker animals that a Simmental would throw and which could easily be confused with a pure Bravo.

Total production cost is estimated at around k150/head (£92), and the cows all qualify for suckler cow premium.

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