6 June 2001
Assurance costs set to tumble

By Andrew Swallow

FARM assurance costs are set to tumble with the introduction of further competition into the market for verifying combinable crops.

The Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb (FABBL) division of Assured British Meats has been licensed to start verifying combinable crops from 1 July.

It will offer verification of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme (ACCS) to all-arable farms and in addition to FABBL verification on mixed farms.

The long-awaited move ends a three-year monopoly on ACCS verification held by United Kingdom Food Quality Certification (UKFQC).

In a back-to-back arrangement, UKFQC parent company Checkmate International will offer verification of livestock to FABBL standards.

FABBL chief executive Philippa Wiltshire said growers would save money because the need for separate visits for livestock and arable enterprises would end.

Savings will be greatest for farms seeking livestock assurance and combinable crop cover, she said. Larger arable-only farms can also expect lower charges.

“If you are talking about charges in the high 200 to 300 range then yes, we will be cheaper,” said Ms Wiltshire.

“Members can expect the same level of service from FABBL regardless of whether they have livestock on the farm or not.”

Paul Ibbott, chief arable advisor at the National Farmers Union, welcomed the change. But he added: “We wouldnt want to see any slipping in standards.”

The ACCS board is trying to strengthen standards by applying for the scheme to be approved by the UK Accreditation Service.

A full review of ACCS protocols is planned in time for harvest 2002, with a change to annual verification of ACCS farms already approved at board level.

Current ACCS membership stands at 11,500 farms, or 2.083m ha of crops, including 1.155m ha of wheat and 395,000ha of barley.

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