17 April 1997

Forage additive list under fire from makers

By Sue Rider

THE UK Forage Additive Approval Scheme is failing to provide farmers with meaningful information, and its standards lack teeth.

These criticisms come from silage additive manufacturers or distributors who feel that the UKASTA run FAAS scheme must tighten up if it is to have credibility, and help farmers make decisions.

They are calling for open declarations on active ingredients and specifications.

KWs Dave Forster believes the scheme doesnt go far enough. "It lacks teeth. At present, categories just demonstrate the additive will do something – not whether the farmer will get value for money.

"In a time of openness and traceability, silage additive manufacturers must start being more frank," says Mr Forster.

Full declaration is also called for by Terry Owen, research director for Ecosyl Products. "The scheme should provide open and clear information so farmers can make a judgement on products."

And he would also like to see manufacturers listed so that farmers know who makes each product.

"There are a number of identical products registered under different brand names." So many own label versions must be confusing, he says.

Dr Owen also believes product assessment should be tightened up – its too easy for a product to gain approval in the UK, he says. "There are 62 inoculants in the list, with 56 approved for milk yield. But look at scientific literature and additive schemes in other countries, and its a different situation."

He points out that Germany has approved just three inoculants for increasing milk yield. All known animal trials must be submitted – with a minimum of three trials.

Dr Owen is also concerned about the assessment criteria. "At present efficacy is judged by whether the product gives a significant improvement over the control – but that doesnt mean it will be practically or economically worthwhile for the farmer."

He believes that the only way to take the scheme forward is to seek the help of the advisory services. "If within the trade we cant agree on a way to take the scheme forward, we should give the advisory services a freer hand to tighten up approvals and to ensure the scheme is more transparent."

Gerard Thomas of Thomas of Fontaine is also concerned about the scheme. He too wants tougher approval categories which require products to demonstrate a value for money benefit.

"Farmers deserve a better idea of how products will perform on farm."

Dr Thomas also seeks more open declaration. He would like the level of active ingredients listed – and in meaningful units so that farmers know exactly whats in each product.

But Alltechs managing director Gem Clay questions the motives of some companies calling for open declaration. "I have no problem with open declaration – but of how much value is it to the farmer? We want to market products based on what they do – not on their label declaration."

As a manufacturer of own label products, he would not like to see manufacturers listed. "Every product is covered by product liability insurance, and claims get passed back to the manufacturer anyway.

"We are in danger of giving farmers too much information which becomes worthless."

UKASTAs Derek Ward is unable to comment on what changes should be made, if any. "That is a matter which the scheme participants alone can decide. But UKASTA is well aware of the difficulties, and is responding by seeking ideas from manufacturers on how the scheme could be changed."

The consultation process is planned for this summer, says Mr Ward. But no changes are likely for this years register.


&#8226 Need more open declaration.

&#8226 Tighter approval categories.

&#8226 UKASTA plans consultation.


&#8226 Need more open declaration.

&#8226 Tighter approval categories.

&#8226 UKASTA plans consultation.