2 April 1999

Down corn, up horn?

NORTH Yorks farmer Derek Watson is tempted by the Agenda 2000 reform package to follow a "down corn up horn" policy.

Having assessed the changes, he is now considering halving the 81ha (200 acres) of arable crops grown and adding another 100-head to his 50 suckler cows.

"I think I may struggle to compete with some of the larger arable units, but I do not doubt my ability to compete on the livestock front," he says.

Mr Watson also runs a 550-sow outdoor Newsham multiplication pig unit at West Wold, West Knapton, near Malton.

For the unsubsidised and crisis-hit pig industry, he believes the CAP reform package could result in reduced feed costs from lower grain and protein prices.

But there is also likely to be increased market volatility, he says. And, to benefit from lower feed prices, producers may need to work with compounders on a fixed end-price basis, or make greater use of the futures market.