By FWi staff

LEADING grain processor Allied Mills has announced it will only use farm-assured wheat from harvest 2000, and has introduced several measures to encourage farmers to produce it.

Although the firm will not pay a premium, the move speeds the likelihood of a two-tier market, which will effectively create one, says Allied wheat director Charlie Fillingham.

From next month Allied Mills, which accounts for about 25% of the national flour market, will favour deliveries of farm-assured grain. “Deliveries will be given priority in the early part of each month so growers benefit from earlier payments, and mills will dedicate certain days to assured deliveries only,” says Mr Fillingham.

Some mills will switch to 100% assured supplies before 2000. Advance notice will be given from each mill, he adds.

“This clearly indicates to growers that if they go for the scheme, they will have markets available to them. They will be paid early, and are going to have more flexibility on deliveries. A premium will, therefore, naturally develop for assured grain.”

Phil Humphris, regional wheat manager for Rank Hovis, said that food safety is critical now.

“The farm assurance scheme is very important, and in the new year we intend to give preference to ACCS grain. By the year 2000, it is our intention to use ACCS as the sole source of grain for all our mills.”

The benefits of the ACCS scheme, says Mr Humphris, are that it:

  • Integrates primary producers into the food chain;
  • Ensures best practice;
  • Enhances due diligence;
  • Improves customer information; and
  • Increases the transparency of the food industry and increases consumer confidence.

Robert Robertson, Kent farmer and chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, fears that these latest announcements confirm that the trade has fully accepted the scheme against farmers wishes.

“Only the largest farmers really approve of it – it costs them less per tonne. This is another step down the road which could see farmers having to join what is supposed to be a voluntary scheme, to protect their prices.”

  • In Devon, Lloyd Maunder, which mills about 1250t of wheat and barley for its poultry units, has announced it will only use assured grain from September 1999.