26 November 1998
Grain merchants deny ACCS ‘repression’

By Vicky Houchin

CLAIMS that merchants are paying a premium for assured grain and creating a two-tier market have been dismissed as propaganda by the trade.

Robert Robertson, chairman of the Federation of Small Business agriculture committee and long-time critic of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, says the “repressive” scheme is distorting grain markets.

He has invited growers to avoid the “several thousand pounds and annual fees” they might spend on joining the scheme, and donate a £20 contribution to a fighting fund to challenge the scheme in Brussels.

In return, Mr Robertson will put growers in touch with merchants who do not pay less for unassured grain. He said: “We have received assurances from several of the largest grain buyers in the country that they will buy non-assured grain for the same market price.”

Growers should save their money, says Richard Whitlock of Banks Agriculture. “Mr Robertson is in danger of embarking on a mission of misinformation and hype.”

The maximum fee that the largest farmer could possibly pay is £350 a year, and the smallest a maximum of £100, stressed Mr Whitlock, who is also an ACCS director.

“There is no secret list that Mr Robertson can run an exposé on, and theres no need to. We have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. I would strongly advise anyone not to waste their money spending £20 on his propaganda campaign.”

There are no premiums for ACCS grain at present, and no date set for an introduction either, said Dalgetys crop marketing development manager, Gary Hutchings. “We may have to move towards assurance with contracts, but its difficult to say that a contract is a premium.”