26 December 1997

S-WEST

SOUTH-WESTERN barometer grower Richard Payne is in favour of the ACCS in principle and has already applied to have Heathfield Manor Farm, near Taunton, Somerset, registered.

"I do not agree with being pushed into a corner, but if that is what the market wants we have got to do it. It is no good making three-wheelers if nobody wants to buy them."

His main grievance is that the scheme involves rather too much window-dressing. "We have got enough book-keeping and paperwork at the moment. If we spend much more time on it some crops may never get sprayed. They will be wanting records of when we get out of bed next."

Practical measures which may require attention at Heathfield include greater care to avoid taking mud into the on-floor grain store during loading. More formal fertiliser spreader calibration may also be needed, he admits.

As a member of Cannington Grain he understands all intakes will have to be from assured farms within three years.

Having representatives of a wide range of end users on the ACCS board should ensure common sense standards, he believes. "We must be sure that we do not aim for a gilt-edged countryside that never was.

"But what really concerns me is traceability. Traceability will come on the back of the scheme. Farmers insurance will then go through the roof."

Experience in the beef sector also makes him wary. "Consumers say they want assured grain, so that should mean from wherever it comes. There has to be a level playing field. There is no point in us being holier than thou while everyone else is sniggering behind our backs."

Richard Payne favours the scheme but is not looking forward to coping with the paperwork.