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Patrick Godwin

30 August 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

AFTER a week of dry and warm weather we had cut just over 85% of this years 240ha (593 acres) of arable crops by last weekend.

Consort has been disappointing at 7.5t/ha (3t/acre) with a very indifferent sample. We have yet to venture into the Savannah and Tanker but I do not expect much from those either. The Optic spring barley came off at just over 5t/ha (2t/acre) but again the samples were poor with high screening losses. I am sure that the lack of sunshine in June and July is the culprit for our disappointing results.

One of the best samples so far has come from organic conversion Paragon spring wheat. Yielding 3.7t/ha (1.5t/acre) it gave a bright and bold berry. Slightly later development of the crop means it may have caught some of the better weather in July.

Another weeks combining should see the bulk of the wheats off. Stubble turnips are sown and rolled and ewes are grazing organic conversion stubbles before flushing on undersown white clover leys.

With only a few weeks to go before Sept 22s Liberty and Livelihood march it is time to canvass support from those waverers who cannot decide whether to attend or not. We have several souls booked on our coach who are not country people but who are keen to support our way of life. They feel that this is a free country and the government should not be able to ride rough shod over a minority simply to curry support, and perhaps finance, from pressure groups.

The other day I read that the RSPCA has offered to rehouse the 20,000 hounds which would become redundant should hunting be banned. Since last year they themselves have had to put to sleep many unwanted dogs, hence I find this offer somewhat fatuous and disingenuous. Trying to find long-term homes for this number of essentially pack animals will not only cause great distress to the hounds but could contribute significantly to the divorce rate among the country community! &#42

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Patrick Godwin

2 August 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

THE combine and the hay tedder are both working as I write but the old adage that an English Summer consists of two fine days and a thunderstorm seems to fit the current forecasts.

I remember something from my O Level geography syllabus about the interaction between the Gulf Stream and the Azores High. Warm currents of the Gulf Stream bring warm moist air from the gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic giving us the traditional stream of Atlantic depressions, the lows that mean wet and often windy weather. However, in summer, the Azores High, a large high pressure system sitting over that tiny Atlantic outcrop traditionally pushes north to give us the fine weather we all remember.

Well, this year it hasnt happened. We have no Azores High and consequently no settled weather. You can blame whatever you like, El Nino, La Nina, or global warming, but the net effect is not good for my stress levels.

Over the past year some of my articles have bemoaned the Courage winter oilseed rape. Last weekend, in glorious warm weather, it yielded a respectable 3.6t/ha (29cwt/acre), above our budget of 3.2t/ha and a very pleasing result off this light land. It was also easy to harvest following 3 litres/ha of glyphosate a fortnight earlier.

The next crop on the list is organic conversion triticale. The yields for this will be most interesting as we have done nothing at all to it since drilling last autumn. Triticale is a very robust crop and has not suffered from any disease of note, keeping most of its green leaf area until it ripened naturally. It could be a close run thing between organic conversion spring wheat and triticale as to which tops the gross margin league table at the end of the year. I am not just talking about in-conversion crops, but across all our cereals conventional or in-conversion. &#42

Spring wheat and triticale, both in conversion to organic, could top the gross margin table on the Angmering Estate, reckons farm manager Patrick Godwin.

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Patrick Godwin

5 July 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

AT last we have settled weather. What a difference it can make to a farming week.

Looking at my records I see that since January we have had 480mm (19in) of rain. That is, within a few millimetres, the same as in the first six months of last year.

A sustained effort over the Jubilee weekend saw all our flag leaf sprays completed. Early morning starts and late evening work ensured that we applied the critical fungicides and avoided strong winds in the middle of the day.

Six large influential rural organisations have banded together to ask the government to implement the recommendations in the policy commission report on the future of farming.

It is a pretty diverse group made up of The Country Land and Business Association, RSPB, Countryside Agency, Food and Drink Federation, National Consumer Council and the National Trust.

Together they have asked that the £500m the Curry report demanded be put into next months comprehensive spending review.

Other groups are also campaigning to highlight the countrysides plight, including Friends of the Earth, the Wildlife Trusts and the Ramblers Association, which has a postcard campaign aimed at Tony Blair.

What I find interesting and heartening is their range of interests. They all have their own particular axes to grind, but all realise that without a strong agriculture the countryside as we know it will disappear.

Improvements in biodiversity on a national scale are far more likely with a buoyant agri-economy. Assured, traceable and locally produced foods can be produced only from profitable farms. Farmhouse B&Bs and local hotels will find business much better within a vibrant countryside.

The government must realise that agriculture is the engine room of the rural economy. The countryside is as it is because farming and field sports have made it so. Lets hope that its future is shaped as a result of government support and not lack of it. &#42

Government must learn to appreciate that agriculture is the engine room of the rural economy, says Patrick Godwin.

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Patrick Godwin

7 June 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

WIND blows and showers tumble down, T2 fungicides sit patiently in the store with man and machine ready to roll.

The "plan" was to breeze through the winter wheats with a wild oat graminicide at GS 36-7 and follow later with our T2 fungicides at full flag leaf. With the forecast for the next week not good we will be least 14 days later than planned with our spraying. This will mean having to combine the wild oat chemical and the fungicides. One upside is that the wheats are still very clean and the lateness of the main fungicide may reduce the spending on T3 to nothing at all.

Haydn spring rape is taking its time about growing and while it remains at the cotyledon stage it is fair game for flea beetle. Our white chalk soils take longer to warm up in the spring and at 120m (400ft) above sea level with a strong south westerly blowing conditions for the crop are not ideal. However, I am confident that it will eventually grow away quickly. Peas are moving now and have had 0.75 litres/ha of dimethoate to counter a thrip attack.

My 17-year-old son recently cut his arm badly at school. While waiting with him to be treated in the local hospital I was musing on the latest government idea to bolster funding for the NHS by increasing National Insurance contributions. I asked the surgeon how, in his opinion, the increase in funding would make his job and that of his colleagues any easier.

He replied that an article in a nursing magazine he had read recently told him that the NHS provides 200,000 hospital beds, but has 206,000 administrators. Presumably that means each bed could have its own administrator sitting beside it, with their finger on the pulse.

I conclude he is not convinced that throwing money at the problem will solve it. As in agriculture, the money must reach the target without disappearing down the drains of administration in between. &#42

Wheats are still very clean on the Angermering Estate, West Sussex, says farm manager Patrick Godwin. But spring rape is struggling.

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Patrick Godwin

10 May 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300-acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

AFTER 38 consecutive dry days, 33mm of rain during the past week has been most welcome.

But it was not so much the dry weather that has hampered growth but the very sharp frosts and cold nights that we experienced at the end of March, scorching cereals and grass alike.

Regrowth from grazed pastures was not happening and with silage stocks at a minimum it was touch and go whether we would run out of grazing for the dairy cows.

Cereals and grass have both now begun to grow away. Savannah wheat is at GS37 with the Consort and Claire just behind. We will be at full flag leaf emergence by the week commencing May 13.

Between now and then I will continue the search for wild oats. So far, they are conspicuous by their absence but the recent rain will have jogged them into action and I am sure that we will not get away without having to apply some graminicides.

Broad-leaved weeds that have been slow to develop in the spring barley so far are also accelerating. Control for these will be with Harmony M (metsulfuron-methyl + thifensulfuron-methyl).

All the arable crops have received their total nitrogen dressings. Winter wheats have had 200-220 kg/ha (160-176 units/acre) depending on position in the rotation, while spring barley has had 120 kg/ha (96 units/acre). We have experienced some scorch with the liquid fertiliser but it soon disappeared.

With the bulk of the crops now safely on their way it is time to turn to the most important – our 27ha (67 acres) of game cover. These areas, often grown in the most difficult of circumstances are, on a £/ha basis, the most valuable.

With farm profitability becoming more dependent upon alternative enterprises, a well-organised shoot can provide valuable income.

But growing such crops is something of a poisoned chalice. Successful crops full of birds are a credit to the gamekeeper. Poor crops and no sport and the farm managers name is mud. &#42

Wheats will be at flag leaf fully expanded next week on the Angermering Estate, says farm manager Patrick Godwin.

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Patrick Godwin

12 April 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

SPRING is always a busy time for us at Lee Farm and shepherd Mike Martin and his team of assistants have been busy lambing 1400 ewes. With only a few left to go, it is time to concentrate on some field operations.

The ground has suddenly dried up and the last of the 30ha (74 acres) of year two "in-conversion" Paragon went into a good seed-bed following forage rye. We have planted 12ha (30 acres) of Espace peas, which have been rolled and sprayed with Bullet (cyanazine + pendimethalin) pre-emergence herbicide. That leaves just 45ha (111 acres) of spring oilseed rape to finish our spring drilling program.

The winter wheats are fast approaching growth stage 31 and are ready for fungicide and growth regulator. Strobilurin backed up by older chemistry for specific targets is the strategy. Claire wheat, for example, will receive 0.4 litres/ha of Acanto (picoxystrobin) plus 0.4 litres/ha of Flamenco (fluquinconazole) and 0.1 litre/ha of Fortress (quinoxyfen).

Courage winter oilseed rape has had its quota of 210kg/ha of nitrogen and 80kg/ha of sulphur. It seems a very indeterminate variety and does not look attractive to the eye, but looks are not everything and it is clean so we will postpone judgement until harvest. Having applied 0.75 litres/ha of Folicur (tebuconazole) and trace elements the sprayer will not be back until mid-flowering.

Farming as part of a large estate, we have to integrate with other departments. The shoot and the farm work closely together and as part of that effort we have formulated a plan to improve the bio-diversity of Angmering Park.

With sound farming methods and environmentally friendly practices we hope to encourage grey partridge and other bird and insect species back into our field margins. Looking at forward prices for cereals it is difficult to attempt such schemes with such huge pressures on budgets and margins.

However, work done by the Game Conservancy suggests that much can be achieved by small changes to old habits. Lets hope this is the case. &#42

Integrating farming with the wider objectives of the estate is difficult when arable margins are under such pressure, says Patrick Godwin in Sussex.

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Patrick Godwin

15 March 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

DARK, wet February "fill dyke" days have given way to a brighter drier March.

Our chalky soil on the downs dries out quickly and we have been able to drill 52ha (128 acres) of Optic spring barley. This was followed by 22ha (54 acres) of Paragon spring wheat on land in organic conversion. The Paragon is destined for whole-crop silage for the dairy cows. While I am tempted to undersow it with a white clover ley the whole crop will be taken in early July so we will have a good chance to drill the grass then. We have another 38ha (94 acres) of Paragon and 32ha (79 acres) of Optic which should be in within the next week.

It is becoming apparent just how much gout fly infestation we have this year. The fly lays its eggs on the emerging plant in September and the maggot burrows into the plant resulting in the classic dead-heart symptoms and a stumpy gouty appearance. In the past infestation has been relatively low and the main tiller has taken over from the main stem with no yield loss. This year we have fields with 8-10 plants/sq m affected. Will that lead to yield loss and what can we do about it? Any answers gratefully received.

The spin doctors have been busy again. Just as it looked like the Press were getting the upper hand in the sordid Stephen Byers affair out came the old chestnut of the Hunting debate. Nothing like a contentious issue to take the press pack off the scent.

But just as the real scent has been poor here in Sussex, the press were only deflected for a few days. Most of the opinion polls I have seen say that the middle way is popular with the public. It would seem that those wanting a total ban are in the minority. Time to dig out the marching boots and banners methinks. &#42

No gout fly here, but winter cereals have 8-10 plants/sq m affected on the Angmering Estate, Sussex, says farm manager Patrick Godwin.

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Patrick Godwin

15 February 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

HAVING decided to take spraying back in hand from the contractor I had hoped to write about our first forays with a new sprayer. But incessant wet and windy weather has confined us to the yard. Andy Eade, our new operator, is very frustrated.

We investigated all leading makes and brands of trailed machines before settling on a John Deere. It will also be used to apply liquid nitrogen. Spreading granular fertiliser to 24m on the Downs requires a still day, a day when we should be spraying. This move should bring us greater accuracy and more timely applications in both operations.

The list of jobs planned for January would have given a relaxed introduction to the vagaries of the new machine. However, the clock ticks on and Courage oilseed rape and some Nov-drilled Soissons is clamouring for nitrogen as the mild weather encourages everything to grow. Oh for five dry days.

The Curry report brought few surprises. Two issues about it concern me. First, on the food side, I dont believe it gets to the bottom of the problem. Most people in this country have allowed food and healthy eating to slide down their priority list. Until we can encourage them that food is more than just a fuel stop we will struggle to supply local or added value produce in meaningful quantity. The competition from abroad for the mass-produced commodities will always win.

Secondly, that of "modulation". Creaming off 10% or more of aid to channel it into environmental schemes is laudable. But the current Countryside Stewardship scheme uses 27% of available funds in administration alone. Simple forms filled in by farmers and landowners themselves, plus a reduction in red tape and bureaucracy is what is needed. These proposals seem unlikely to deliver.

Having spent the past week in bed with flu I think I have rumbled the governments latest scam to reduce unemployment figures – Daytime television. Anything has got to be better than staying in and watching that. &#42

The Curry Commission report into Food and Farming fails to get to the bottom of the food problem and promises yet more bureaucracy, says Patrick Godwin.

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Patrick Godwin

18 January 2002

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

RECENT dry weather has enabled us to give land destined for in conversion spring wheat a liberal dressing of well composted manure. South East Injection Services have also emptied the slurry lagoon with an amazingly efficient umbilical system.

I volunteered to spend the weekend stirring the lagoon with the giant pto-driven propeller stirrer – apparently I am a good stirrer!

Over 1.8m litres (400,000 gallons) of slurry was pumped through the pipework and spread onto 20ha (50 acres) of grazing grass in two days, with no mess, wheel marks or mud on the roads.

The crops survived the recent frosts remarkably well, mainly because snow provided a protective blanket during the coldest weather. Frost lift has not been a problem, thanks largely to the dry soils in the preceding months, but it can be a real killer on these light soils, lifting whole plants out of the ground and exposing them to desiccating winds.

Courage oilseed rape is surviving the winter well however it is being eyed up by what I can safely say is the largest flock of pigeons I have ever seen. Thankfully the abundance of clover and stubble turnips on the farm is providing an alternative food source. February will be the time for real vigilance because turnips will have been grazed and clover will need protection from the grey menace as it starts to grow away.

Like many others we are still waiting for our IACS cheque. The overdraft graph is shooting off the page and our interest charges inexorably rise. I gather the delay is largely due to a trade dispute within the Rural Payments Agency and over 25% of claims are still to be dealt with.

Well, if anyone from the Inland Revenue is reading this they may like to note that my secretary and I are in dispute too and we shall not be paying any moneys into their coffers until our dispute is resolved. She claims it is my turn to make the coffee when obviously it is hers. Whats good for the goose… &#42

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Patrick Godwin

14 December 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres)

rural communities are struggling to rebuild their livelihoods DEFRA has contrived more obstacles to thwart the resumption of hunting with hounds. It seems that suddenly everyone who comes onto the farm must be considered a "biohazard".

As of Dec 17, when hunting may resume, the hunt secretary must apply for a licence to hunt three days in advance. He must supply a map of the proposed area to be covered and a detailed list of names and addresses of hunt followers. Foot followers must keep to public roads and disruption by "antis" is to be the responsibility of the hunt officials.

Come on DEFRA, the countryside is either open for all or it isnt. Dont use the tragedy of foot-and-mouth to take another swipe at hunting. &#42

EVERYTHING comes to those who wait and our patience has been rewarded this year with a wonderful "open" autumn on the South Downs.

It goes without saying how much our job depends on the weather and my addiction to the weather forecasts is a source of much amusement to non-farming friends. Mild and reasonably dry weather has allowed us to plant and spray all of our planned autumn crops and grazing our replacement heifers well into December is nothing short of a miracle. In most years they are housed from mid-October onwards. This has resulted in great savings in feed and bedding straw.

Since the rights of way have been reopened following the lifting of foot-and-mouth restrictions we have had hundreds of people on foot, mountain bike and horse using our 23km of footpath and bridleway. A significant proportion have dogs, some of which are kept under control but many are not. It is not uncommon to see dogs roaming far off the paths through buildings and woods.

Reading the current DEFRA regulations relating to the resumption of fox hunting I smell a rat. The Masters of Foxhounds Association was very quick off the mark to stop all hunting within days of the first outbreak. Now, as rural communities are struggling to rebuild their livelihoods DEFRA has contrived more obstacles to thwart the resumption of hunting with hounds. It seems that suddenly everyone who comes onto the farm must be considered a "biohazard".

As of Dec 17, when hunting may resume, the hunt secretary must apply for a licence to hunt three days in advance. He must supply a map of the proposed area to be covered and a detailed list of names and addresses of hunt followers. Foot followers must keep to public roads and disruption by "antis" is to be the responsibility of the hunt officials.

Come on DEFRA, the countryside is either open for all or it isnt. Dont use the tragedy of foot-and-mouth to take another swipe at hunting. &#42

DEFRAs licence requirements for hunting, post foot-and-mouth, suggest double standards, says Patrick Godwin, who farms in West Sussex.

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Patrick Godwin

19 October 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres).

SEPTEMBER-DRILLED wheat looks well and with 195ha (480 acres) drilled the end to the autumn drilling rush is in sight.

All that is left is 23ha (57 acres) of Soissons and 24 ha (59 acres) of in-conversion Triticale left to go.

It is rare for us to suffer from slugs and consequently we would not normally carry any pellets in the store. But I spotted the tell-tale signs of damage in some Savannah following oilseed rape a fortnight ago, while walking the dogs one Saturday. Problems with delivery and the weather meant it was Friday before we could get any pellets on. The following weekend gave us almost 40mm (1.6in) of rain, but the ESP pellets survived the deluge and the wheat is now growing away from the damage.

The farm has been involved with the Game Conservancy for many years, particularly with Dick Potts and the Grey Partridge projects. Anyone interested in the countryside should be grateful to the Game Conservancy and their work to promote that time-honoured link between farming and wildlife. Dick and his colleagues have spent many hours in the field over the past 30 years, bringing good science and argument back to the negotiating table with those in power.

We should all support their efforts, especially as the change in agricultural support moves towards a more environmentally based system. The work of the Conservancy will become more significant and Arable Stewardship Schemes and others like them need to be based on sound science and practical ideas.

Good luck to the retiring director Dick Potts and congratulations to Teresa Dent, Dicks successor. Dick is to continue with his work on the Grey Partridge projects here on the South Downs. He began 35 years ago and has been monitoring their populations annually. Sadly he has been observing a marked decline over the years but with his help, advice and sensible government policy we may yet see the return of the grey partridge here. &#42

Do you support the Game Conservancy? Patrick Godwin believes its work is increasingly important.

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Patrick Godwin

27 July 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres).

THE traditional for those with an itchy finger on the combine keys is to keep checking the ripening crop. When it looks fit, go on holiday for a week, and on your return it really will be ready to combine.

Well, after a week in Portugal we returned to wet and windy weather, but as soon as it dries out our Pearl winter barley will be fit to combine.

Cereals, in general, look very well and have benefited from the recent hot sunshine followed by rain.

Aardvark wheat after set-aside remains green despite not having had any fungicide since 0.75 litres/ha of Mantra (epoxiconazole + fenpropimorph + kresoxim-methyl) in early June. Claire is senescing naturally and shows no signs of lodging.

Optic spring barley also looks good. Given some warm weather over the next fortnight it should fulfil its promise.

Apex winter rape has been desiccated with 3 litres/ha of glyphosate-trimesium to avoid uneven ripening. We have found great benefit from adding Kandu surfactant to this spray as we have very hard water.

The straw price has rocketed and I would be very surprised if anyone chops any straw in this part of the country. While it is a great bonus for the arable businesses, it is yet another cost placed on the already beleaguered livestock sector.

Traditionally, we have bought our nitrogen early and taken any price advantage. This year, however, we shall bale all our straw and store it in the voluminous fertiliser store for sale in winter. The extra fertiliser cost will be more than compensated for by the value of the straw with cashflow advantages.

One of the endearing aspects of farming is that when harvest is done and we plough the stubbles, renewed optimism sets in. Much like the angler who believes his next cast will catch a record-breaking fish, so each autumn brings renewed expectations of a barn-filling harvest. &#42

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Patrick Godwin

1 June 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres).

WHEN is foot-and-mouth not foot-and-mouth? When it is in the run-up to a general election with an embarrassed government attempting to get re-elected, it seems.

I have heard suggestions that "suspicious contacts" are remaining as suspicious contacts, despite positive test results for F&M. It then does not become a statistic, we have a nice sunny day with no new cases reported and Tony Blair gets a pat on the back for defeating the plague.

I do not like being "spun". Each non-case is good for the spin-doctors in London but it is a human tragedy for the families involved. Worse, it gives the impression to the non-agricultural community that the battle is won. Meanwhile, the MAFF slaughter machine grinds inexorably on, now edging up to 3.5m animals slaughtered. F&M still holds a firm grip, election or not.

There are dark mutterings emanating from Millbank Towers that farming and the countryside will have to change. We must change the way subsidies are paid by switching to more environmentally based aid. This "de-coupling" will, we are told, be carried out by a new Department of Rural Affairs which will rise phoenix-like from the self-ignited ashes that was once MAFF. Where agriculture sits on this new horizon is anyones guess.

Any fundamental change, and change there will be, must only be after wide ranging debate from informed and interested parties. Do people want cheap food at any price and from anywhere, or are they willing to subsidise greater welfare and environmental standards for a steady supply of good wholesome food? If this great countryside that the voter has been given the right to roam over is going to be kept in the manner to which they have been accustomed then there is a price to pay.

If a new way forward for all of us is spawned from this terrible epidemic then maybe some good will have come from it. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, I shall be voting for the candidate who can promise me a warm summer, kind autumn and a huge rise in the fortunes of the k &#42

Foot-and-mouth still holds a firm grip, election or not, says Patrick Godwin from Angmering, Sussex.

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Patrick Godwin

2 February 2001

Patrick Godwin

Patrick Godwin is farm

manager for the 930ha

(2300 acre) Lee Farm

Partnership, Angmering

Estate, West Sussex. Soils

are chalk-based with

combinable winter and

spring crops occupying

525ha (1300 acres).

RECENT frosts saw phosphate and potash applications completed on arable ground and 30kg/ha (24 unit/acre) of nitrogen applied on backward wheats and some rabbit and deer grazed patches.

The wheat price is firming for next harvest and the k is gaining value against sterling. All in all things look a bit brighter.

A "Profit and Loss" projection to the end of September 2001 based on this years farm budget shows a loss after rent. But a "what if" exercise shows that a rise from the budgeted £70/t to £75/t for the cereals, plus 1.5p/litre on the milk price and £2 extra/lamb would convert that loss to a small surplus.

I am an optimist by nature and these encouraging signs mean I am looking forward to better times. But there is many a slip between cup and lip and the "what if?" scenario may not see returns up for all enterprises. A cold, wet March could strangle the lamb crop, while no rain in May and June would stifle the cereals and steal any hopes of getting milk from grass.

The Countryside Agency has started mapping out the Freedom of Access bill and I hope that a sensible approach to the designating of "Downland open for access" is taken. Personally I suggest a consultation with MAFF because parts of the Downs in existing Environmentally Sensitive Area management schemes will be removed from the scheme by growers and put back into conventional agriculture if they look like being given over to public access, and understandably so.

Laws may say one thing, but their interpretation by the public can be another, and that is what counts. We have already had people convinced that the "right to roam" is law and that they can wander at will. Farmers have, over the years, been lambasted by the general public for the destruction of our flora and fauna. But the public and their dogs tramping at will over the countryside will do nothing to enhance any form of biodiversity. &#42

The Freedom of Access bill could see land entered into environmentally sensitive area schemes ploughed up, warns Sussex downland grower Patrick Godwin.

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