19 April 2001
Grain sampling set for major overhaul

By Andrew Swallow

GRAIN sampling and analysis systems face a radical overhaul in an effort to reduce rejections and allowances which cost growers an estimated 17 million a year.

Cross-industry discussions, initiated by the National Farmers Union, may end the trades system of student sampling and free analysis.

Instead, growers would take their own samples and send them for analysis at a Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops (TASCC) registered laboratory.

That will help growers ensure they have the most accurate possible grain sample, says NFU cereals committee chairman Richard Butler.

And by asking for analysis at a laboratory chosen from a register of TASCC approved facilities growers should be able to ensure results are reliable, he said.

“If a grower knows his milling wheat is 12.5% protein not 13% then he will be in a better position to negotiate a deal with allowances built in.”

Mr Butler said many claims come as a nasty shock to growers – particularly since allowances can be at the same level as when wheat was worth 120/t.

Extra effort from growers will be needed to take samples at intake, but no extra cost should be incurred, insisted Mr Butler.

Laboratories may charge for analysis of samples. But where grain is sold through the company a refund should be available, he believes.

Mr Butler envisages a win-win system with the trade saving the cost of sampling and growers getting better results.

Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) director Alistair Dickie echoed these sentiments.

“Many of the problems in the market place go back to a possibility that farm grain isnt properly sampled or analysed at harvest,” he said.

The best way to eliminate that is to train farmers to take their own samples properly in the first place, he said.

In return for growers effort, merchants, millers and maltsters should agree to all laboratories working to a common standard, said Mr Dickie.

The HGCA is co-ordinating talks between the NFU, millers, maltsters and trade bodies to produce a united proposal to present to the Ministry of Agriculture.