19 May 2000

Cheaper grain test

SAMPLING procedures for testing grain going into intervention have been simplified and, although costs will be cut, traders say further changes are needed.

Acceptance of proposals from the red tape working group, one of three set up by farm minister, Nick Brown, last autumn, has cut the cost of testing grain from about £400 for the first 500t offered, and about half thereafter, to £182 for each test, reports the NFU. Instead of an aggregate sample being tested for each 500t lot within a contract, only one will be needed in future.

Traders welcome these changes, but say a clause will prevent UK farmers from benefiting. Rules state that another sample must be taken when grain reaches store. If a marginal pass has been given at source, a different sample could trigger a marginal fail at the intervention store. According to David Balderson of Lincs-based Viking Cereals the Intervention Boards rules make no allowance for that. Few people will take the risk when the cost of recovering grain would out-weigh any margin on sales, he says.

"I think the NFU review committee needs to look again at what is being offered. It would not encourage myself or others to put more grain into intervention," he adds. &#42