19 June 1998

Own assurance scheme &were in driving seat

ARABLE farming needs a good, reliable assurance scheme to put farmers in control of their crops and forestall any supermarket demands, according to farmer Robert Law.

Mr Law, of Thrift Farm, Royston, Herts, farms 1215ha (3000 acres) in Cambs, Herts and Notts and has already entered beef and sheep assurance schemes.

"I hope the ACCS version is not a re-run of them because they are not worth the paper they are written on, he says. "I have had two verification inspections and not moved out of the kitchen on either of them."

So far Mr Law has only registered one of his four farms for ACCS inspection. "It was easy to comply with the schemes requirements, but we had done a lot of homework and taken the necessary action before the verifier arrived."

The door of the store had to be altered, lights needed covering, details of local bee keepers checked and the consultants BASIS number logged. The total cost of compliance was £3500. However, much of that was one-off costs, he notes. "Only time will tell whether it was worth it."

He has not entered his other farms as they are already covered by a scheme operated by his local miller.