21 April 2000

Call to leave ACCS and join new group

CEREAL growers are being urged to bring about the demise of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme by quitting en masse and forming a new group.

Anti-ACCS campaigner Bob Robertson claims to have letters from "a sprinkling" of farmers who suggest "getting together and resigning en bloc".

Mr Robertson now wants more letters in confidence from other farmers who are willing to form a new anti-assurance body: "Farmers are reluctant to come forward because they are frightened they wont be able to sell their grain. They must get together and stand up and be counted."

Supporters of ACCS claim the scheme gives UK customers and consumers absolute confidence in the quality of UK-grown produce.

But Mr Robertson says that it is anti-competitive and attempting to close markets to non-ACCS registered growers.

He hopes a significant number of ACCS-registered farmers will respond to his call, but was cagey about putting a figure on the number required.

Mr Robertson was also reluctant to give details of the proposed new group, other than to say it would be anti-farm assurance.

The ACCS predicts that 11,000 cereal farmers responsible for 80% of the UKs marketed grain crop will sign up for the scheme this year.

About 60,000 cereal farmers still continue to operate outside the ACCS. But a spokesman for the organisation declined to comment on Mr Robertsons plan. &#42