2 April 1999

Size isnt issue when it comes to joining ACCS

By Andrew Blake

PROOF that smaller mixed farms can become ACCS registered without too much trouble or expense lies at Kiddington, Oxon.

John Goffes family-run mixed White House Farm joined Farm Assured British Beef and Lamb in 1995 and ACCS last May.

"We joined FABBL to ensure we had as many market options as possible," says Mr Goffe. "I assume ACCS should do the same. It did not make any difference last year, but it seems as though it may this harvest. Several firms already say they will give preference to assured grain. If that is the case then I feel it has been justified."

Becoming ACCS registered was surprisingly easy and inexpensive. "But it took a bit of time. The main thing was that our chemical store had to be bunded. We have also had to adopt insect trapping and do some bird-proofing and repairs on the bins."

Tougher store lights soon proved their worth. "I hit one tipping a trailer last harvest. If we had not changed there would have been glass all over the grain."

ACCS means more writing and record keeping, he admits. "I find the best way is to keep a very accurate, up-to-date diary." Free ACCS specimen forms were considered too complicated.

Overall expense, including two-year registration fee of £300, has been about £500. "I admit we were lucky in having the bins," says Mr Goffe. "We could have had to spend a lot more or make sure we shifted all our grain before October."

Tighter controls are inevitable, he reckons. "But I think those who have already joined ACCS should find it less painful to adjust."

Mr Goffe is not convinced of calls for a unified whole-farm assurance scheme . "If the schemes are to mean anything, the inspectors must be experts in their own fields. That is what buyers want.

"There is no reason why the same organisation cannot do the work, but the schemes need to be kept separate."

WHITEHOUSEFARM

&#8226 ACCS approved last May.

&#8226 Mixed 200ha unit.

&#8226 250 ewes plus 80 cattle finishers on 18-month silage-based system.

&#8226 129ha milling and feed wheat, peas and barley for home mill and mix.

&#8226 FABBL registered 1995.

&#8226 Local feed mill ACCS-only from harvest 2000.

&#8226 Multi-purpose sheds cleaned with care.

&#8226 More paperwork required.

&#8226 Extra cost accepted.

&#8226 "No" to whole-farm scheme.

Dual purpose sheds

Until 1993 all grain was stored in open lambing sheds. Shortly after that 600t of nearby bin storage was rented. But with the drier on another site and plenty of grain near harvest, the sheds still serve as temporary storage. Their transitional use means extensive bird-proofing is not required, provided grain has gone by the end of September. Cleaning is rigorous. "We always pressure wash after the sheep have gone. The key is to do it straight away when the muck is still damp and has not caked on. The only difference now is that we have to write down that we have done it."