28 May 1999

FCBs call for small farmers to join up

SMALL farmers have a big part to play in the future of farmer-controlled businesses and must be encouraged to join them, say the firms promoters.

Some delegates at a recent NFU conference, Routes to Prosperity for Farmers, feared that the larger an FCB became, the more it would lose touch with its members. Company bosses were keen to allay the concerns raised at the Stoneleigh, Warks, event.

Field support was essential, said John Rutherford, managing director of WMF, which is soon to merge with MSF to form Countrywide Farmers, the largest farmer-controlled supply industry business in the country.

"You have to get away from the fear, mistrust and local "tribalism" that exists in some parts of the country. But we have to be closely in contact with our rural routes, and it is a problem we shall have to address."

Robin Pooley, chairman of NFU Corporate and United Pig Marketing, an amalgamation of nine pig marketing groups, said: "I have reiterated again and again that the FCBs must support and develop local culture."

Andrew Dare, chairman of Milk Marque Developments, said it was not good enough to keep a business local for the sake of it – it would not be big enough.

It was vital, said Clive Wilson of Gs Marketing, to have people who believed in the same objectives and had the same aims. "It doesnt matter how many of them there are." &#42