16 February 2000
New direction? ‘We’re already there’

By FWi staff

FARMERS are often one step ahead of politicians when it comes to diversification, the Royal Agricultural Society of England excellence awards for business reveal.

Farm-made ice cream, real Cheddar cheese and Cornish bulbs and cauliflower are products at the heart of the three winning businesses in this years awards.

All three impressed judges by demonstrating that getting close to the market can be a big advantage in the current era of reduced farming profits.

Earlier this month Tony Blair told the National Farmers Union annual general meeting that farmers must diversify if they are to prosper in the years to come.

“These winners show that farmers know this only too well and in many cases are well ahead of the politicians,” said RASE chief executive Charles Runge.

The farm-made ice cream is from the Guernsey herd of Brian Moore, High Jervaulx Farm, Masham.

He is a first generation farmer with a 200-strong herd on 220 acres in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.

Mr Moore set up the business in 1984 and now runs a farm shop and ice-cream parlour as well as supplying 80 other retail outlets.

John Alvis, who farms 2400 acres at Lye Cross Farm, Redhill, Bristol, makes real Cheddar cheese with milk from his 1000 cows.

Whey from the cheese manufacture is fed to the 39,000 finished pigs produced each year.

At Fentongollan Farm near Truro, Cornwall, 24 million brassica modules and 130 acres of daffodil bulbs and cut flowers are cultivated by the Hosking Family Partnership.

Judges noted a real commitment to Cornish agriculture and the wider rural economy.

Mr Runge said: “RASE appreciates that diversification and entrepreneurship are not easy nor necessarily an option to all farming businesses.

“I hope our winners this year will be an inspiration to those who fear the future is all black for UK agriculture.”