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Steve Bumstead

5 July 2002

Steve Bumstead

Steve Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from

Ouse Bank Farm, Great

Barford, Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

JUNE is a month that just flies by, what with all the trials, visits and, of course, the annual Cereals event.

Forgetting last year, this excellent show has become an annual Mecca for the serious grain producer.

What makes the event unique is the fact it is not static, but moves around mostly the eastern part of the country. This gives visitors an insight into growing crops on different soil types.

The trouble is that I now need two full days to see it all and do my stint on the LEAF stand.

Well done to the RASE and exhibitors and thanks to the Ireland family for all their hard work and support of the arable industry.

The T3 fungicides are now on. I have stayed with the tried and tested mix of 250ml each of Folicur (tebuconazole) and Amistar (azoxystrobin). I have tried Syngentas new Amistar nozzles on part of the area as a comparison to the 02 lo-drift flat fan I normally use.

The lobbying by various groups for the government to adopt the Curry proposals as a whole is a cleft stick for me. Wearing my LEAF/FWAG hat, I demand the £500m match funding and the promise of putting profit back into farming.

Stripping off to my to my bare-fisted street fighter NFU member role I challenge the motive and fairness of modulation.

Cross-compliance is being tabled as an alternative to Curry. A few years ago I suggested just such a regime to a farmers group meeting. This caused quite a stir and left me scuttling towards the back exit.

Its very laudable but could mean that those who are in the habit of flailing their hedges to waist height in August would lose all or at least some of their area payments through bad practice.

Doing nothing is not an option, but one thing is certain. Without profit being put back into farming no proposals are worth the paper they are written on. &#42

Wherever it is located Cereals is an annual Mecca for serious grain producers, says Beds-based Steve Bumstead.

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Steve Bumstead

7 June 2002

Steve Bumstead

Steve Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from

Ouse Bank Farm, Great

Barford, Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

IN the past couple of weeks, I have had problems with rather too much wind.

I refer to the weather, of course, not my penchant for Newcastle Brown Ale. Wheat flag leaves are now all emerged and Malacca is booting. Mean-while my expensive fungicide programme sits protected in plastic bottles rather than protecting my wheat. I did plan to try some extended fungicide timings, but not to gamble with 90% of my crop.

As of the end of last week Malacca and Option had had only a 0.3 litres/ha Opus (epoxiconazole) plus 0.125 litres/ha Swift (trifloxystrobin), mostly applied as a late T1 spray in early May with some Tern (fenpropidin) added to square up patchy infestations of mildew.

Despite that lack of fungicide, I am pleased with how the wheat looks so far. The magnificent deep green gives me a warm glowing feeling. However, my cautious side warns that its not over until the fat lady sings – and she is still sitting in a plastic can in the spray shed!

Topik (clodinafop-propargyl) plus methylated rapeseed oil has given good control of wild oats, but on blackgrass results range from very good on plough established crops to barely satisfactory on non-inverted establishment. Next season we will use another chemical group on the more difficult fields.

One of my biggest faults is that I am a very bad loser. Of course, the NFU cereals committee would not back me for a place on the HGCA cereals committee. But they did not even take the trouble to find out or interview me as to why I want to be on the committee, unlike others who e-mailed or phoned to quiz me.

Some of these HGCA committees are desperate for new blood and the ideas and enthusiasm that come with it. We cereal producers fund the HGCA with 40p/t we sell. May I suggest we deserve better than people who could be described as mediocre "yes men" propped up by a crew of self-opinionated "has beens"? &#42

When will this wretched wind die down? asks Beds grower Steve Bumstead, who is itching to get T2 sprays applied.

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Steve Bumstead

10 May 2002

Steve Bumstead

Steve Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from

Ouse Bank Farm, Great

Barford, Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

WE have had 25mm (1in) of much needed rain in the past week.

I was becoming more than a little worried for my Paragon spring wheat, which had sat in a bone-dry cobbley seed-bed for six weeks. Germination was patchy and the two fields at Roxton, right next to the A421 look embarrassingly dreadful.

I spent the first couple of days in May in the company of like-minded farmers at the annual LEAF demonstration and supporter farmers training days, which were based at Sygentas Jeallots Hill farm and research centre complex. We had some eminent speakers, which led to thought provoking debate. Everybody taking part was allowed their say and I had to come home to rest by the end. If you are thinking of joining, do. If LEAF means nothing to you, then please find out at this summers shows. Talk to Caroline Drummond, her team and farmers that man the LEAF stand and find out about Integrated Farm Management, the sensible, sustainable way forward for UK farming.

Viking Cereals collapse has both saddened and deeply disappointed me, as in the past they have treated me well. For now I must hold fire with any further thoughts while a workable solution is found for all affected. The question is who can we be confident about trading with?

One rumour I can confirm is that The Independent On Sunday did list me as one of the UKs "Top Ten Farmers" along with another who also writes on this page. Although proud I am bewildered and somewhat humbled by this accolade. When the wild oats poke through the wheat I will come down to earth with an almighty bump.

Continuing on the big-headed theme I have put myself forward for a British Cereals Products HGCA committee post. I am convinced I can help market and sell British produced cereals – that is if the NFU has the guts to support me. &#42

After Vikings collapse, who can we be confident of trading with, asks Beds-grower Steve Bumstead.

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Steve Bumstead

15 February 2002

Steve Bumstead

Steve Bumstead farms

148ha (365 acre) from

Ouse Bank Farm, Great

Barford, Beds. He is a first

generation farmer and

council tenant, growing

combinable crops on three

blocks of land. He supports

LEAF and is the FWAG

county treasurer

THE way our government acts against farming and quality home food production really does give me the impression that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. We are not the only ones drawing taxpayers money. Amongst others, the politicians who damn us do too!

I would like to suggest to the overtaxed public that we farmers give much greater value for that money than one or two MPs that I could mention, especially those that swan off to far-flung warm climes while the public transport and health systems crumble.

The recently published Curry report really is a curates egg – good in parts, rotten and distasteful in others. Its findings fall wide of the mark, not least in its failure to recognise that farmers need a viable and sustainable business income to deliver the goodies it so eagerly suggests.

In my view, it is a waste of time and taxpayers money. Too many irrelevant single-issue groups were given a platform and hi-jacked the consultancy phase, aiming to further their own blinkered causes. If you read the report carefully you will notice it plays to the gallery – the Blair government and its supporters.

My biggest disappointment so far this year is the paltry £40/ha (£16/acre) payment offered for the over-winter stubble followed by spring-sown crop option of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It is just not enough. Ironically, when I was consulted informally by MAFF I suggested £40/acre. Perhaps they misheard me!

This penny pinching attitude of DEFRA is very unfortunate because this was one scheme I wanted to take up, but the sums just dont add up. Another great opportunity for biodiversity and conservation lost.

With all this wet weather, fieldwork is at a standstill. We did manage to get some Xi19 wheat drilled before the end January. The seed-bed was not ideal, but at least the seed was covered and at not too great a depth. Fingers crossed for quick emergence then some frosty weather to aid vernalisation. &#42

£40/ha just isnt enough for the new spring crop option of Countryside Stewardship, says Steve Bumstead.

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