29 September 2000

Anger & rough ride for

Quinn…

By Marianne Curtis

MAFF minister Joyce Quinn was given a hostile reception at the European Dairy Farming Event with producers angry at increased levels of red tape, unfair trading conditions and lack of opportunity for young farmers to enter the dairy industry.

She told a Spotlight on Profit forum at the EDFE that she was aware of aware of the high level of Sterlings effect on the dairy sector. Mrs Quinn went on to suggest that UK producers should seek new markets in central and eastern Europe.

"These countries represent an increasing number of consumers and provide opportunities for British businesses."

But Hants-based dairy producer Mark Maclay was unimpressed. "We cannot benefit from exporting milk to an enlarged EU unless the government sorts out the huge imbalance between Sterling and the k."

Red tape also continued to be a major headache for producers, he added. "When I sell a cull cow I must fill in BCMS forms, a movement book, OTMS forms and Supplementary Payment Scheme forms. This process places a severe burden on the dairy industry."

But there was little comfort for producers in her response. "Form filling is complicated by the fact that we are part of the EU, but we are continuing to negotiate in Brussels on these issues."

Young farmers attending the event tackled Mrs Quinn on whether there would be a future for them in dairying. "She totally side-stepped the issues," said Brinsbury College NDA student Lee Waters.

"I worked for a farmer with 70 cows whose family had produced milk for 65 years but he had recently sold up due to low milk prices. There is hope, but not for small farmers, only for the big boys."

But diversification offered opportunities for farmers struggling to make a living by conventional means, said Mrs Quinn.

"I dont believe the solution lies in attracting a few extra tourists to supplement income but I am struck by the ingenuity of some farmers in attracting extra income.

"Successful diversification opportunities I have seen include keeping wild boar and game, and producing speciality cheeses."

Brinsbury College students express their disappointment to Joyce Quinn at the lack of support for new entrants to the British dairy industry.

PRODUCER CONCERNS

&#8226 Too much red tape.

&#8226 Weakness of k.

&#8226 Difficulties for young entrants.