HOW time flies when you are enjoying yourself, or rather not following recent rains.
In the past month we have hardly been able to get on land to look at crops let alone drill or top dress. We did manage to apply 87 kg/ha (70 units/acre) of liquid nitrogen, plus sulphur on the oilseed rape but it is now nearly the middle of March and the workload is beginning to back up.
Instead, more time has been spent chasing the mouse and punching keys on the computer searching for some answers to the current situation in farming. One thing comes to the fore time and again – the need to keep cutting costs and avoid unnecessary new expenses.
Top of the list for the latter must be the ACCS membership. What have members received for three years subscription so far? Not a lot. Over £2m/year is being leached from the farming community for what purpose? Meanwhile, some of the schemes directors are collecting substantial salaries.
Huge sums are spent on advertising using fear tactics to pressure growers into joining, warning that non-members will be left with nowhere to market their grain. They tell us that only a minority of growers has yet to join but that is not how I see it. The latest figures suggest membership has actually fallen in the past year and less than half of cereal growers are paid up members.
If assured grain is so important to merchants and the industry, why do they import non-assured grain as soon as they can get it for £0.50/t less than domestic produce? Until there is a level playing field, why should we pay any attention to these people?
As an alternative, merchants could verify stores under UK Feed Assurance standards and guarantee to purchase your feed grain. Surely it is merchants like that whom we should be supporting, not those who support "bully boy" tactics on an already depressed farming sector.
Is ACCS membership worth any more to growers than this handful of grain, asks Justin Blackwood at Grange Farm in Northants.