14 November 1997

Assure… and reassure

CONSUMERS are not happy.

They are worried about BSE and CJD, E coli, salmonella, OP sheep dips, pesticide residues, and genetically modified products. Whether these worries are real or perceived is unimportant, because if consumers arent happy, they wont buy.

And, in a world in which agriculture is so strongly market-led, if the consumer isnt happy, then neither will be the farmer.

The task at hand is to present the facts, to provide reassurance and to improve standards wherever possible.

British farmers are among the best in the world. But there is more to be done.

Farmers, abattoirs, retailers and government must work together to rebuild confidence in food.

To consider how this can best be done, Sentry Farming Group, solicitors Mills and Reeve, equipment manufacturer CLAAS, the Agricultural Travel Bureau and farmers weekly have teamed up to arrange a one-day conference.

This annual event, which has become an essential diary date for farmers and representatives of the ancillary industries, will take place at Chilford Hall, Linton, Cambs on Thus, Feb 19, 1998.

Once again, it features a list of high-profile speakers, the first of whom will be Sir Colin Berry, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, advising six government departments. Sir Colins talk is called Scientific Realities – and hes certainly a leading authority in this area, having served on scientific committees in the UK and EU for 16 years.

Processing Priorities will be the theme for Sir Ross Buckland, chief executive of Unigate since 1990. He is currently president of the Institute of Grocery Distribution, vice-president of the European Food and Drink Association and a member of the Economic Affairs committee of the CBI.

Lord De Ramsey will then tackle Public Responsibilities. He has been chairman of the Environment Agency since 1995 and also chairs the 6500-acre family farming business in Cambridge-shire. For five years he was on the governing body of the Institute of Plant Sciences.

Fed and refreshed, delegates will find Bernard Auxenfans the first speaker after lunch. Mr Auxenfans, who is the president of Monsanto Life Sciences Company, will speak on genetic modification. He serves on the boards of a number of international food and farming policy-making bodies.

Addressing the subject of Consumers Expectations will be Deirdre Hutton, vice-chairman of the National Consumer Council and chairman of the Scottish Consumer Council. She also chairs Rural Forum Scotland.

And finally, giving the governments perspective will be Jeff Rooker, Minister of State to MAFF since May 1997. With the recent change in government, the big question now is what this will mean in areas such as food safety and standards. Mr Rookers responsibilities include these areas, plus pesticides.

The conference will be chaired by David Richardson, a director of Sentry Farming Group and a FARMERS WEEKLY columnist.

&#8226 Delegates who book by Fri, Jan 9, 1998 will have their names entered into a draw for a £200 travel voucher donated by the Agricultural Travel Bureau. The winner will be able to put the voucher towards a farm study trip or holiday arranged by the ATB.

(Those attending the conference can claim up to five hours CPD for the RICS and will be credited with three CPD points for BASIS).n

Farming 1998: Rebuilding Confidence in Food

Venue: Chilford Hall, Linton, Cambs. Date: Thus, Feb 19, 1998.

Please return this form with your fee, which includes coffee, lunch and tea. VAT at 17.5% is included. Tickets and VAT receipts will be provided to all delegates.

Please reserve………..places at £70.50 (including VAT) each in the names of (block capitals please)

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Cheques should be made payable to Sentry Farming Ltd (Conference Account) and sent to the Conference Office, The Hall, Willisham, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP8 4SL.

Name………………………………………………………………………………………….

Address……………………………………………………………………………………….

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Postcode…………………………….Telephone………………………………………….

Occupation………………………………………………………………………………….

Farm size……………………………Owner/Tenant…………………………………….

Bernard Auxenfans, president, Monsanto Life Sciences.

Sir Colin Berry, chairman, Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

Sir Ross Buckland, chief executive, Unigate.

Deirdre Hutton, vice chairman, National Consumer Council.

Lord De Ramsey, chairman, Environment Agency.

Jeffrey Rooker, Minister of State to MAFF.