6 October 1999
Learn to compete, grain producers told

By FWi Staff

GRAIN producers must stop waiting for good news and learn to compete with overseas producers on the world market, a leading business consultant claimed today.

“British farmers cannot stand up and compete in global markets without major restructuring,” said David Bolton of consultants Andersons.

Mr Bolton told delegates at a Home-Grown Cereals Authority conference in London that farms would have to expand to compete.

The general public, who enjoy looking at the countryside, would have to accept the social and environmental implications of expansion, he said.

“I do not think they have been or are being led wisely in that debate.”

Growers must recognise their customers requirements in an attempt to reverse the fall in farm incomes which have steadily declined for 30 years.

Total farm incomes have fallen savagely from £6 billion in 1976 to just £2bn in 1998, said Mr Bolton.

To offset this, producers must supply the agreed quantity of grain at the right quality and to the correct safety specifications to whatever buyer demanded it.

Consumers attach increasing importance to quality, safety and traceability of their food, Mr Bolton told delegates at the conference.

In a further attempt to maximise incomes, farmers should collaborate with other producers and share specialist farm labour and machinery.

Farmers who werent prepared to get involved in professional food production should leave the industry to those who were, he concluded.