21 May 1999

David Boddy, chairman of the NFUs Melbourne branch, Derbys, harvests some of the speciality Japanese vegetables he now grows. "It all started following a comment from a Japanese lady who said it was impossible to find any fresh Japanese vegetables at a reasonable price. And with more than 65 Japanese families living in the Derby area, there was sure to be demand," Mr Boddy says. In his glasshouse, alongside everyday carrots, cabbages and lettuce, he now grows Japanese dicon mouli, green shunkiku, kohlrabi and Japanese parsley.

NFU snubs Milk Race revival

PLANS to revive the Milk Race as a way of promoting milk have been given the thumbs down by NFU leaders and the National Dairy Council.

Former Milk Marketing Board and Milk Marque director, Allin Bewes, has joined two of the team who used to organise the Milk Race in MMB days, in a bid to get it started again.

Mr Bewes says they have written promises from sports minister, Tony Banks, of Sports Council funding for 32% of the agreed costs of the event (likely to be over £1m), and have been led to believe the event would quality for about £500,000 of EU funding, via the Intervention Board. Television and other rights would bring in more cash, but staging the cycle race would still need another major backer, Mr Bewes says. He was told the NFU had no money for this sort of venture and was unable to offer even moral support.

Phil Hudson, NFU milk adviser, said the union was not backing the Milk Race concept because the NDC, which the NFU regarded as the industry experts on milk promotion, did not support it.

He said the unions milk committee had never been formally asked to allow Mr Bewes to make a presentation on the race. Mr Bewes insisted he had asked for that chance, though only verbally. Michael Horrell, NDC chairman, told FW: "The professionals on our committee were not convinced that the Milk Race was the right way to promote milk today. They said if it was such a good idea an industrial sponsor would already have come forward.

"We also believed it would cost more than the budget presented to us, because when the MMB ran it many costs were hidden."

Mr Horrell also pointed out that the NDC was urgently trying to get a statutory promotion levy in place. "We want to collect farmers money in an organised way and then spend it in an organised way," he said. &#42

SFFA to meet minister

MEMBERS of the Small and Family Farmers Alliance are to meet farm minister, Nick Brown, next month.

They will explain to him why CAP reform under Agenda 2000 must be carried out in ways which help smaller farms stay in business so that they can continue to fulfil their many other social and environmental roles in the countryside, said spokesman Mike Hart.

Since the alliance was formed, giving one voice to a bigger number of people, it has carried more weight in political circles, he said. An active membership campaign would begin soon. &#42

College cash award

BISHOP Burton agricultural college is to receive £50,000 from the government in recognition of the quality of its agricultural courses and outstanding student support. The East Yorkshire college has been singled out as one of the best further education establishments in the country. &#42

Plans drawn up for New Norfolk broad

UP to 81ha (200 acres) of low grade arable land could become the site of a new Norfolk "broad".

The Broads Authority has drawn up plans to create a new area of open water, for recreational and conservation purposes.

The preferred site is on the western fringe of Great Yarmouth on part of the 1012ha (2500 acres) of land farmed by Charles Wharton of Winsford Hall. He has already agreed to a request from the Broads Authority to dig trial pits.

Mr Wharton said: "We are happy to allow the authority to carry out studies, but when it puts its proposals forward we will be looking to see what impact the project would have on our business."

The land identified for the new "broad", a former marsh which was drained for arable purposes after the Second World War, is currently used to grow peas, sugar beet and wheat.

Clay from the proposed excavations could be utilised in a multi-million £ scheme to build new floodbanks to protect homes and low-lying agricultural land.

The flood prevention scheme has already obtained a government go-ahead and is due to proceed in phases over the next 30 years.

The Broads Authority says if clay is not available locally, it will have to be brought in from elsewhere at considerable cost to the environment in terms of lorry traffic.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads were created during the last century by peat workings.

Together with local rivers they make up a network of navigable waters which are enjoyed by thousands of holidaymakers each year and which also offer extensive wildlife habitat.

But according to Mark Wakelin, chief navigational and water recreation engineer for the Broads Authority, the new "broad" would remain isolated from the network. "Our aim would be to create a large body of new open water for sailing, with the margins providing new wildlife habitat," he said. &#42

Controlled waste worry

SCOTTISH farmers are worried about moves to classify farmyard manure and slurry as controlled wastes, leaving them subject to a legislative framework and extensive bureaucratic controls.

The possibility of such a move has been highlighted by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and has drawn a swift response from the Scottish NFU.

Environmental spokesman Henry Murdoch said that farmyard manure and slurry had to be considered as recycled by-products. "They are not waste because they have beneficial uses," he said.

"If they are classified as controlled wastes it will mean a land management plan for the application of farm yard manure and a certificate of competence for contractors. That is unacceptable," said Mr Murdoch, who, with union president, Jim Walker, is to meet SEPA officials on the subject within the next week. &#42