Archive Article: 2002/09/06 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Full circle… Months after John Edwards, of New Farm Organics, Wrangle, Lincs, was pictured in farmers weekly filling his seed hopper, he examines the end result. He is shown here with a sample from the resulting 5t/ha (2t/acre) crop of organic Chablis spring wheat. Mr Edwards said he was pleased with the yield and expects to sell it for £180-£200/t, almost three times prices for the conventional crop.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Mapping could cause IACS aid delays

Dont panic. Thats the response from the Rural Payments Agency following reports that its scheme to digitally map every field in the UK could be worryingly inaccurate.

But future IACS payments depend on the accuracy of the maps. With a 28-day deadline to notify the RPA of any mistakes, producers struggling to end harvest are right to be worried.

The organisation says there is plenty of time to resolve problems. However, given its track record on late subsidy payments and with cereal values at all-time lows, even the slightest risk of losing out on next seasons IACS money is enough to give farmers sleepless nights.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Based on our ongoing harvest poll of growers and agronomists, including 228 wheat reports. For daily updates on harvest log onto

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Been there, done that… Harvest finished with Clipper winter beans last Saturday on Peter Fairs farm at Great Tey, Colchester, Essex. Despite looking promising 4t/ha off heavy boulder clay matched the farm average. "I had hoped for a bit more," noted Mr Fairs.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Definitely a bullish trade… 150 Continental-bred cattle met huge demand as witnessed by the crowd at the ringside at the farm dispersal from W J Swinnerton & Sons at Adderley Lodge, Market Drayton, on the Shrops/Cheshire border. John Swinnerton is retiring while his son, Geoff, is looking to diversify his interests after an overseas tour. James Evans of auctioneer Halls saw heifers easily reach £508 apiece with many cattle heading into the Midlands and north-west for finishing.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Combining forces… Combine driver Grant Downie is given a little extra help carting wheat as the last 6ha (15 acres) is cut at Blagdon Farming Ltd, Morpeth, Northumberland. The Claas Lexion 480 is dwarfed by the massive trucks capable of carrying 100t of earth belong to HJ Banks Plc which has acquired the lease to extract 1m t of coal lying as far as 80m (200ft) below the farms surface.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

A decision to stop milking at Ifordfarms, because of the constant flood threat at the estates Rise Farm, near Lewes, Sussex, saw the herd of true red-and-white Holsteins dispersed at Beeston Castle market, Cheshire, this week. Topping the milking section at 1350gns was Ifordfarms Verbena Red 5th, a Nov 99-born daughter of Granduc Jaromir ET and out of Ifordfarms Verbena Red 2nd. Still giving 30 litres a day in her first lactation and in-calf to Granduc Marky ET, she led a string of 1000gns plus animals in one of the largest red-and-white dispersals for some time, according to auctioneerWright Manley. The Iford Estate has retained its other dairy herd.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

How research cracks sandy slurry snags

Cows enjoy the comfort of beach life when they sleep on sand bedded cubicles. But problems begin when vast amounts of sand end up in slurry. Abrasive slurry is enough to frighten off many contractors and it causes rapid wear on farm spreading equipment.

But progress has now been made towards a remedy. All that was required was simple research testing different kerb designs to see which kept most sand on the bed.

Lets hope this helps encourage more farms to consider sand as a bedding material with the benefits in comfort and mastitis reduction it brings.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

DEFRA plans to run down sheep recovery

What do you do when an industry shows signs of recovery from one of the most disastrous periods in its history? Offer its primary producers help to rejuvenate their businesses? Or offer money to reduce its size further below already record low levels?

The answer, if youre DEFRA, is the latter. Its latest scheme to buy sheep quota from less favoured area producers in exchange for reduced stocking rates when the sector is on the upturn is surely one of the most ill conceived yet.

Asking producers to bid for the scheme based on projected incomes over the next five years requires the skills of Mystic Meg. How does DEFRA expect producers to put in realistic bids when it cant produce a guide price?

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Questions answered on tillage matters

Everyone knows the importance of cutting seed-bed establishment costs. But how? Minimum tillage systems are the fashionable answer, but they may not work on your soil type.

And if you do choose the min-till route, theres a bewildering choice of kit. To find help, why not attend one of the two Tillage 2002 events taking place this autumn? In action will be equipment from virtually all the main manufacturers.

The first takes place on Thur, Sept 12, at Thomas Banks and Partners Manor Farm, Harlton, Cambs. The second at Russell Blacks Wester Cash Farm, Strathmiglo, Cupar, Fife on Tue, Oct 8. Both events will provide your best chance of coming to the right seed-bed establishment decision for your farm.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Starting out early… Joshua Waring, aged eight, is the youngest person in the UK to register his own pedigree cow. Limestone Topaz is a new addition at his fathers unit, near Wragby, Lincs. He hopes to follow in his fathers success in producing prize-winning Charolais cattle. "The only hard job is getting up at 5.30am and cleaning up muck with a fork," he says.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Dont hold back on grass weed sprays

Grass weeds are steaming ahead in newly-sown oilseed rape and stale seed-beds. So despite the temptation to cut every input possible, holding back on grass weed sprays this autumn could prove a false economy.

Now is the time to hit such weeds hard. Broadcast oilseed rape in particular needs the rapid removal of weed competition.

Meanwhile, stale seed-beds provide a great chance for effective, low-cost control. Also good seed-beds favour the use of pre-emergence herbicides. Dont let grass weeds undermine your crop profits – hit them hard now.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Personal alarm can mean safety first

Farms are dangerous places. Even the simplest of tasks could prove lethal. And a shrinking farm work force means that more people work in isolation.

After a serious accident, what are the chances of immediate assistance and survival?

Welcome help comes in the form of a new personal alarm system that uses a combination of GPS tracking and GSM mobile phone technology to provide a link between the user and a constantly manned call centre.

Should the worst happen, an alarm could be raised at the touch of a button. The precise location of the accident is also broadcast so help can be sent, immediately. Keeping in touch could help to keep you alive.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002


THE telephone number for SAFFIE field margin volunteers is 0133 294226, not as stated last week.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Second life in farming starts now

While recovering in hospital from a near fatal heart attack, partially brought on by the stress and worry of trying to run a tenanted dairy farm with my son, I watched the TVprogramme Dairy Wars.

I must congratulate David Handley and his wife for being so frank in explaining their plight. The pain and worry shown on Mrs Handleys face said it all. I feel ashamed that David did not get the support from his fellow farmers that he so richly deserved.

I am told by my doctors that I am now starting my second life. I can only pray that it will bring a better future for farming in general. And that my sons future as a dairy farmer will be a lot brighter.

David Hope

Cardiac Unit, St Lukes Wing, Cheltenham General Hospital, Cheltenham, Glos.

Dairy farmers cant take cuts

The events of recent months have highlighted the impossible position of UK dairy farmers. At the top end, we have the Office of Fair Trading telling supermarkets that any joint move to raise our prices would be seen as price-fixing and fines up to 10% of turnover could be imposed. And at the bottom, a single dairy company seeking more market share can go to the retailers offering lower prices knowing he can strip it from the backs of the primary producers.

The last price cut in July was just such a case. Even Express said that there was no justification from the market for such a move but within a week every major milk buyer followed suite. You can change whom you supply, but when you have a contract that requires months of notice, you have no power to influence their actions.

I have read the reply from Robert Wiseman to the FFAs request that the company reinstate the money cut. It suggests that because some farmers had bought new parlours and quota prices had remained stable, the industry was not about to meltdown. This attitude is like the one displayed by a mediaeval baron to his serfs. Two, perhaps three, dairy companies, control the prices we receive, if one of them drop it, they all do.

We need an independent body that can look at the actions of the dairy companies and award compensation to all who lose out as a result of their actions.

M W Fisher

Ivy House Farm, Stoke Golding, Nuneaton, Warks.

NFU trying to rule the roost

The NFU has just made another £10,000 available to help tenant farmers with forthcoming rent reviews. This extra money was approved by the NFU Legal Committee which has a budget of £20,000. Sounds like a positive idea? No, it is not.

Those old enough to remember will recall that 21 years ago the Tenant Farmers Association was formed under the leadership of Dick Whittle. I was an original member and later became chairman. The TFA was formed because the NFU was not serving the tenants interests and could not be persuaded to do so.

Since then the TFA has done an outstanding job. It provides an excellent advisory service and has a team of experienced land agents skilled in operating on tenants behalf. Many tenants have good cause to be grateful.

So, here we are in an industry fighting for survival. I am told that there is not enough money to fund the professional media relations unit that the industry desperately needs. The main reason not enough money is available is widespread and senseless duplication.

The NFU is trying to compete with the TFA, with the equally professional National Sheep Association and with the Country Land and Business Association. The scope for economy, to say nothing of greater efficiency, must be huge.

Divide and rule is known to be a successful strategy. Our opponents must be laughing their socks off.

Henry Fell

Church House, Horkstow, Barton on Humber.

Union queries road blitz

The NFU South East Regional Office has raised with the Sussex police a number of the points set out in John Beaumonts letter (Aug 23) "Sussex road blitz senseless". In particular, we have asked what statistical justification exists for targeting East Sussex farmers and why this initiative coincides with harvest?

We have also want to know why HSE inspectors are not making such checks on farm premises as part of their standard procedures during the rest of the year? In at least one case recently the police and HSE trailed a farmer back to his holding and after conducting lengthy checks found nothing wrong.

None of us can be apologists for dangerous vehicles or machinery. But a more common sense approach to this matter would avoid alienating farmers unnecessarily.

Shaun Leavey

Regional director, NFU South East Region, Station Road, Liss, Hants.

MLC backing auction marts

Mr Williams comment that the Meat and Livestock Commission wants livestock markets to end (Letters, Aug 23) is wrong. The MLCs opinion is clear – auction markets continue to have a vital role in any future structure of the British meat industry.

The MLC was at the forefront of activity aimed at delivering a role for auction markets as cleansing and disinfection centres and collection centres during the foot-and-mouth crisis and also in getting auction markets restarted following the epidemic.

MLC Economics has a long-standing working relationship with the Livestock Auctioneers Association to collect, process and disseminate price information. We have always worked closely with individual auction markets, helping them with specific projects.

In the past three years the MLC has helped secure a £150,000 DTI grant for improvements in information technology at auction markets. And we have been technical advisers to the LAA on its web-based trading platform.

Both the MLC cattle and sheep strategy councils have approved the use of levy funds to be used towards helping to implement a quality price reporting system. That will help clarify the detail of the price/classification relationship through live auction. MLC Cymru secured a £25,000 grant from the Welsh Assembly to do the same in Wales.

All sectors agree that our industry is in a state of change. Post F&M, auction markets, along with all other sectors of the meat and livestock industry, are being forced to challenge what they are doing and how they can contribute to the long term future of the British meat industry.

Guy Attenborough

MLC communications manager, PO Box 44, Winterhill House, Snowdon Drive, Milton Keynes.

Trace elements far too scarce

Three articles published recently illustrate the need for joined-up thinking in farming. Your article "Vaccinations ineffective if selenium levels low" (Livestock, Aug 9) contains compelling evidence about how the immune systems of sheep and cattle are depressed through selenium deficiency.

The article "Get your mineral balance right for herd health" highlights the mineral deficiencies plaguing health and performance of UK herds. Your article "Selenium worries over UKs wheat" concerns the cancer risk caused by the paucity of this mineral in UK and EU wheat crops, but then concludes that the catastrophic drop in our soil selenium levels may be due to reduced atmospheric pollution.

Detailed soil testing reveals chronic deficiencies of many trace elements/micronutrients. The available mineral content of our soils has reduced by about 75% in the past 100 years, so it is no surprise that crops and animals fail to thrive.

The most likely causes are tillage and the removal of crops and animals off-farm. That plus pollution, the use of synthetic fertilisers and agrochemicals have reduced mineral availability to plants and animals.

We are stripping out trace elements at a higher rate than nature can replace them. Fifty years ago we fed our animals on home-grown forage alone and made a profit. This was possible because the right nutrients were present in the soil. But now essential minerals, such as selenium, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, boron and iodine, are deficient and farming suffers.

The only logical answer is to replace the missing minerals in the soil on a bespoke basis. Correct soil mineral balance produces healthy, high yielding crops and animals, giving farmers an easier life and benefiting human health.

Martin Lane

Field Science Ltd, Downsview House, Grove Avenue, Coombe Dingle, Bristol, Avon.

Get nutrients back in soil

I write regarding the debate concerning organic farming and modern methods, which denude the land of necessary nutrients and minerals. Although organic farming is commendable, in that no pesticides or herbicides are used, it is not the whole answer.

The answer is complete farming – by which I mean every nutrient has to be available to the soil and therefore to bacteria, plants and animals. That can be achieved by addition to the soil of hydrated lime, phosphate, potash sodium, magnesium, sulphur and every trace element in an acid medium, with calcium the dominant factor.

As this application would amount to an expensive fertiliser, it should be the basis on which subsidies are paid to farmers. Use of those nutrients would eradicate much disease by strengthening the immune system of man and beast.

C &#42 Bell

Baligrundle 4, Lismore, Oban, Argyllshire.

Molybdenum toxicity test

I write regarding your article (Livestock, June 14) about copper.

As an independent dairy adviser, I know the confusion regarding feeding copper to dairy livestock. Many scientists, vets and feed advisers talk about copper for absorption. Chris Liversy is correct in stating that molybdenum is an antagonist to copper metabolism. Copper deficiency symptoms are the same as molybdenum toxicity symptoms. Molybdenum becomes a problem only when it combines with iron and sulphur in the rumen. Copper is then needed to mop up the molybdenum and render it non-toxic before it gets into the blood. Peter Edmonson doesnt appreciate that this is the case, copper injections are a last attempt to solve the problem.

Molybdenum toxicity is on the increase. Thats due to soil compaction, attempts at making dryer silage by spreading and raking up grass, the improper setting of machines, causing soil contamination, and the increased use of sulphur fertiliser. Another factor is the drive for high and economic milk yields using higher forage dry matter intakes. All systems are affected including high and low input and organic units.

Copper is used because farmers see a response to fertility levels, but much copper is added to diets without regard to the forage mineral status of the forages fed. Thats why copper poisoning is increasing.

The standard test is to measure the blood copper levels. I have seen many adequate blood copper levels in cows which display the symptoms of copper deficiency. The reason is molybdenum toxicity where herds have fertility problems and poor energy utilisation of their diets. The only test indicating molybdenums presence is the Leeds University test but unfortunately it is not recognised by the established experts on copper matters.

Barrie Audis

BMA Consultancy Service, 2 Lower Broad, The Knoll, Cutnall Green, Droitwich, Worcs.

Beef is not to blame for CJD

Spongiform diseases occur in both animals and humans. The disease is given a different name according to the species. Those include CJD in humans, scrapie in sheep, BSE in cattle and CWD (chronic wasting disease) in deer and elk.

The same disease occurs in elk and deer yet those animals are herbivores. Eating meat is obviously not causing the disease in vegetarian elk or deer. Therefore, eating meat alone cannot cause it in cows, sheep, humans, or any other species.

Eating British beef alone did not cause new variant or any other form of CJD. We can also prove that it was never experimentally transmitted. What appeared to be transmitted was in fact an induced teratogen which was unfortunately mistaken for a new infectious transmissible agent.

The real cause was revealed in our 1996 Discovery proposal, which was rejected. British meat and bone meal (MBM) content within the feed had doubled in the early 1980s to help boost milk yields. Before that during the 1970s, a new solvent free MBM feed process was introduced without major toxic impact. That change had already allowed bio-accumulated dioxins and other free radicals to survive within the fat component of the MBM.

The third toxic change was the governments compulsory organophosphate prophylactic warble fly eradication campaigns during 1978 and 1982 in England and Wales. These three toxic events when synergistically combined produced the BSE epidemic trigger factor. The poisoning was embryotoxic causing the disease to manifest a few years later in the calf but not in the dam. The Discovery proposal can be viewed in full at:

Anthony Parish

The Archers antics continue

If only Brian Aldridge of BBC Radio 4s The Archers could find time in his busy schedule to read farmers weekly. He might have been able to harvest his precious cereal crops much earlier after having had his own combine burnt out.

Had he read a recent copy, instead of going online to get a replacement machine from Hungary, he could have offered Stewart Hayllor (Arable, Aug 16) a few bob to borrow his all-singing-all-dancing machine that was unable to work because of heavy rain.

It might also have kept Brian away from Sioban. There is no way he would have let a mere woman such as his daughter Debbie drive a Ferrari of the combine world.

Ella Lenton

The Bungalow, Great Bramshot Farm, Bramshot Lane, Fleet, Hants.

Concerns over creep-feeding

It worries me that about one-third of our lamb crop in this country is creep fed on concentrates to fatten them for slaughter. This unwanted practice ruins the healthy taste that lamb used to have.

The MLC and National Sheep Association should do something about the situation or do they not realise what is going on in the sheep industry?

The trouble with our industry is that we let so-called experts dictate to us. Do we want our sheep industry to go down the same road as pigs and poultry?

Gwyn Davies

Hafod-y-Wern, Penrhyndendraeth, Gwynedd.

Towns are no good for hunts

Let me help John Fitzgerald (Letters, July 12) with some of his anomalies. No hunt would consider towns and city suburbs a good environment, because scent is poor from pollution and unsafe for hounds and horses from speeding traffic.

Only a dead shot fox is satisfactory. An injured fox will die, slowly, and in great pain from gangrene. Does he know that urban foxes are being collected and taken to the countryside in large numbers? A Lake District farmer woke to find 14 dazed foxes in his field.

Ruth C Tilston

Raeburnfoot, Eskdalemuir, Nr. Langholm, Dumfriesshire.

TV hunt scenes a travesty

On Tuesday Aug 6, an ITV programme attacked field sports by depicting a stag hunt and argued barbaric actions and stag hunting should be banned.

There are always two sides to every story and the media shows what it wants us to see. In this case the film came from some anti-hunt supporter.

Does anyone believe that unacceptable behaviour is going to be carried out on the hunting field, especially when hunting is very much in the public eye?

I doubt the authenticity of this cobbled-together film. The Exmoor Hunt should speak up and defend itself if, in fact, it was Exmoor. Some people do jump to hasty conclusions from inaccurate spin, dont they?

Graham MacDowel

31 Preston Lane, Lyneham, Chippenham, Wilts.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

Spotlight on north barometer

Bearing in mind flood damage to her Yorks land two seasons ago and lack of summer sunshine, Catherine Thompson is pleasantly surprised at this harvests outcome.

"Weve had a good average year with barley doing 3t/acre and wheat a good 3.5t/acre across the whole farm."

Combining at Holme House, Holme on Spalding Moor, ended last Friday – encouragingly early. "We generally finish between Sept 5 and 10. We hardly had three dry days in a row, so we often worked late into the night."

A neighbours combine backed up the farms 13-year-old New Holland 8080 in the final phases.

"We had no problems at all. But we had to be patient to cut under 18% moisture."

Star crop was Claire winter wheat off heavy land.

To create storage space 250t has been sold to a local compounder, for £55.50/t after haulage.

Some Consort first wheat on heavy ground disappointed after uncontrolled ryegrass took its toll. However, one Sept 8 drilling gave an estimated 8.6t/ha (3.5t/acre). As expected, sown Dec 8 after roots it did only 6.8t/ha (2.75t/acre).

"I am glad we didnt cut the early seed rate too far on the heavy land. We stayed with 225 seeds/sq m rather than the 150 recommended by ADAS. The dry spring knocked a lot of tillers off."

Her return to oats, 28ha of Gerald, proved a surprise. "I cant believe how well they have done. We caught them on an amazingly dry day at 11.7% moisture and they have done well over 3t/acre. The bushel weight is 51.7kg/hl, so they should go for milling."

Good cereal results have helped offset earlier disappointment with winter oilseed rape. The all Fortress crop yielded only 2.5t/ha (1t/acre) due to poor establishment, says Mrs Thompson.

"It had lots of bald patches. We were clearly still suffering structural damage from the floods of 2000/01."

For the first time some straw has been sold in the swath for covering carrots. "It avoids having to bale it ourselves, and I reckon I can use the money to buy what I need for the pigs in the spring. It effectively buys us time," she says.

SpotHarvest home at Holme House in Yo

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002


There is no doubt that bovine TB is an infectious disease, which can be transmitted between cattle and wildlife

in both directions,

says John Bourne.

Prof Bourne is responsible for managing the Krebs TB trial and he believes culling

badgers would lead to a rapid improvement in the cattle TB problem, but removing all badgers from large tracts of the UK is not an option. He plans to explain why at his Spotlight on Profit forum.

"Getting the science into place is in the best interests of the industry to control infection." In his talk, Prof Bourne will also refer to early pathogenesis work, which highlights the difficulty of diagnosing the disease in its early stages when its infectious.

Haskinss view

When he addresses milk

producers at the Dairy Event Spotlight on Profit forum, Chris Haskins will explain the role he thinks dairy farming has in rural development. But for that to be possible, milk production must be profitable.

"If producers are attaining 17p-18p/litre in the present context they are doing well. Efficient producers will be able to survive on 18-20p/litre. But Id like to see prices at 20p/litre; to expect more than that is unrealistic," he says.

While theres no chance of a return to Milk Marketing Board days, Lord Haskins believes two or three national co-ops would be more sensible than the current plethora of processors.

Investing further down the supply chain – as in the recent deal when Milk Link acquired 600m litres of processing capacity from Express Dairies – will also help improve returns, he adds

However, he believes producer investment in the Staffs-based plant, Amelca – which recently called in the receivers only three months after opening – was misguided. "To invest in additional processing capacity is crazy. We must stop putting in extra capacity and rationalise what is already there."

But in the short term, there is a chance of milk prices improving, he says. "The industry is still suffering the effects of the foot-and-mouth crisis. Producers overestimated the deficit created by culled herds and stepped up production. However, we should see less of a surplus in the second half of the year which could strengthen prices.

Prices too low

More co-operation through mutually beneficial strategic alliances or joint ventures between producers and those who process their milk will help secure a future for producers, believes Terrig Morgan.

But producers cannot go on producing milk at such low prices, he says. In his role as NFU milk and dairy products committee chairman, he has found growing anger among producers. They say they are being paid less, while

processors and retailers are making bigger profits.

Mr Morgan says he only has to look at his own accounts to see severity of the financial damage being done to producers businesses and, regrettably, he concedes that a significant

exodus from the industry is almost inevitable. But while he acknowledges that anger,

however justified, it will not solve the industrys problems.

He does, however, believe that the NFU is equipped to fight for a better deal for producers. During his three-year stint as chairman of the, he has earned a reputation for straight talking and freely admits that he has upset some union members.

"I believe that I have to be honest and not make undeliverable promises about what the NFU can achieve on behalf of producers," says Mr Morgan.

"I am not going to stand up and promise the NFU will get 22p/litre for producers or even

the 20p/litre paid when I took

on the committee chairmanship."

That said, he is confident that NFU is influential and that

lobbying can have a big impact on those who determine EU dairy policy and set milk prices. But he admits the union does not have the direct political clout it once enjoyed.

The NFU is equipped to fight

for a better milk producers,

but it does not have the

political clout it once enjoyed,

says Terrig Morgan.

Investing further down the supply chain will help improve returns, but we must stop puting in extra milk processing capacity, says Chris Haskins.

TB is difficult to diagnose early,

says John Bourne.

PREDICTING a milk price even a month ahead seems a distant memory, making planning any business strategy difficult for producers. But plans for the future must be made by individual producers in order to survive the current downturn.

With so many milk buyers and the effect of Europe on commodity prices, it is difficult to say what prices producers can expect at any time in the future. The recent problems with Amelca also highlight a potential lack of security for producers. But to gain an insight into where prices and the industry is heading and whats needed for a successful future, be sure to attend the Spotlight on Profit forums at the Dairy Event on Wednesday Sept 18 and Thursday Sept 19.

As in previous years speakers will give a short address, followed by time for questions and discussion. They will take place in Exhibition Hall 2, starting at 11am on each day.

Visitors to the first forum at 11am will hear an address from MP Elliot Morley, junior DEFRA minister. He will be followed by Terrig Morgan, NFU Milk and Dairy Products Committee chairman (see right).

Even though foot-and-mouth is behind us, another cattle disease – bovine TB – is still causing concern on many farms. About 2800 cattle farms are currently under restrictions and there is a huge backlog in testing animals for disease -which has been on the increase in recent years.

But how will TB be bought under control? John Bourne who heads the Krebs triplet trial currently underway, will explain whats possible and whats not in terms of future control of the disease (see right).

Final session

The final session on Wednesday will be by John Duncan the chairman of the Federation of Milk Groups, which represents co-ops and direct supply groups throughout the UK. It claims its members account for 80% of the total milk produced in the UK.

Thursdays forums are kicked off by Jim Begg director general of the Dairy Industry Alliance (DIAL), formed in March when the Dairy Industry Federation and National Dairymens Association merged. It has 1300 members who include processors and doorstep delivery operators. The 64 members previously forming the DIF account for 90% of liquid milk processing in the UK.

When the new organisation was launched Mr Begg said that DIAL would be working more closely with milk producers.

"It will be moving away from the more confrontational issues of the past. There is now the opportunity to move forward on common issues." These could include closer collaboration over supply chain issues, and promotional and educational schemes, he said.

Another important issue which will face producers shortly is new legislation on fallen stock. This will be addressed by Simon Mead of the MLC. The final speaker is Lord Haskins (see right). &#42

The Spotlight on Profit sponsors, HBSC Agriculture, The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, MDC, DRC and FARMERS WEEKLY, welcome all event visitors to attend the forums which will take place in Exhibition Hall 2 from 11am.

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Archive Article: 2002/09/06

6 September 2002

By Roger Chesher

Nitrogen prices have reached a crossroads with the future path not really decided until figures for voluntary set-aside become known.

The upward five- or six-year cycle has taken an early dip after only two seasons and the majors are once more experiencing prices below £100/t.

"Unsustainable," say the manufacturers, pointing to the fact that Russian ammonium nitrate cannot be profitably brought onto farm much below £100/t and that supplies of Lithuanian at £92-94/t are limited.

These figures, together with rising gas and fuel prices, should raise domestic AN to £100/t after harvest and £110/t or more in January.

There are already signs that a firm lead is beginning, just, to harden the price of nitrogen towards the threshold figure of £100/t.

Increased pricing will only stick, however, if the balance of supply and demand lies in favour of the supplier. If the market size continues around 2-2.1m tonnes of nitrogen, then a steady price rise should be inevitable. This would require set-aside to stay around 12% or 550,000ha. An increase to last years 800,000 ha would mean a loss of nearly 500,000t of nitrogen sales which might, just, be enough to keep nitrogen prices hovering around £100/t.

With Russian pricing only at current levels because of the imposition of anti-dumping levies, it seems inevitable that representation will soon be made for these to be reduced. After all, say the importers, if the domestic price is below £100 with little or no current competition, where is the logic in keeping imported prices artificially high?

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