25 September 1998

Scots favour set-aside

FARMERS all over Scotland plan to use the maximum 50% set-aside next year.

"The feeling is strongest in the north-east, where they had a disastrous winter barley crop," says merchant Adrian Fisher of Glencore Grain.

Such a move is understandable, says Peter Cook, head of SACs rural business unit. "It will be a sad day if we finish up importing malting barley, but with natural regeneration set-aside offering a gross margin of £105/acre in less favoured areas and £10 more in non-LFA, I can see it being the favoured option for a whole lot of farmers in marginal cereals areas."

Henry Graham, head of agricultural services with Clydesdale Bank, agrees. "Reducing fixed costs is going to be the key to survival for many units this winter and going for 50% set-aside is one route to getting those costs down."

Another option is to increase set-aside but plant it with industrial oilseed rape and crops like flax, says Doug Niven, Whitsome Hill, Duns. "That is what we have been doing on our compulsory set-aside and it has worked quite well, although the industrial rape market could easily become over supplied." &#42