6 June 2001
Still time to brush up computer skills

By Tom Allen-Stevens

A FEW places are still available to cereal farmers who want to attend computer courses for beginners this month in the East of England.

Organiser Chris Knock, a farmer and National Farmers Union county chairman, was unable to publicise the courses until relatively late.

Foot-and-mouth restrictions put a questionmark over whether they would be run at all, which may explain why not all places have been filled.

They are taking place at a number of agricultural colleges in the East of England. Funding has cut the usual 200 price tag down to just 40.

Mr Knock hopes to make a further 1200 places available to growers in the winter and open it up to farmers over the rest of the country.

Computers will play an increasing role in farm management, he believes.

“Many growers in their mid-50s may believe they will reach retirement age before they have to become computer literate.

“But changes are happening so fast that this is no longer the case.”

Growers who ignore computers and the Internet will miss out on freely available knowledge that could help their business, he said.

“One real incentive to improve your IT skills is that MAFF is saying that by 2005 all subsidies must be applied for electronically.”

The courses are being funded by the East of England Development Agency and the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA).

Alan Almond of the HGCA said there was an increasing need to get hold of real time market information as grain prices become more volatile.

“You could lose 2-3 per tonne by looking at the historic prices in FARMERS WEEKLY rather than looking at the Internet.”

The courses, supported by the National Farmers Union and FWi, consist of four three-hour sessions each week of June.

For more information, call 0870 241 4579.

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