Tim Gue farms 480ha
(1200 acres) near Steyning
in Sussex. In addition to
the arable enterprise
which includes wheat,
oilseed rape and 112ha
(280 acres) of maize, the
farm is stocked with 220
pedigree Holstein dairy
cows and 350 Mule ewes
TELL it how it is, I was urged by a good friend, who, like the rest of the industry is struggling to keep his business afloat in these times of unrealistic milk prices and increasing regulation.
While there are some positive signs, the fact remains that no one can sustain a business at 13p/litre unless there is a corresponding period of exceptionally high prices. This is as likely as Greenpeace recognising there are environmental benefits to GM crops.
United Milks Westbury plant is now running. This should put a floor in the market, however, prices need to be about 20p/litre to enable businesses to survive, reinvest and modernise and be able to deliver the ever increasing standards the industry or single issue pressure groups demand.
These are obviously not consumer demands or the supermarkets and wholesalers would think twice about purchasing from countries that cannot deliver our traceability or welfare standards and whose disease status is often, at best, unknown.
Pending Uniteds prices for July and August, I hope that with the factory open and on target, the directors have the confidence to meet their commitments and deliver a competitive and realistic price.
While its critical the factory is successful, it is also important that producers are in good enough shape to survive and supply it.
Back to standards, I was amazed to receive the proposed environmental module to be added to the dairy inspection scheme; yet another document that would involve a huge amount of producers time to prove they are acting within the law.
I used to think we were innocent until proven guilty. This proposal is incredible. It is put forward by the usual single-issue pressure groups with their own agendas and those who earn their livings on our backs in the audit industry.
There is no evidence of significant breaching of these laws and codes that are already policed by a number of organisations. If implemented, all they will achieve is to distract producers from tasks such as animal welfare and looking after the countryside. The fact that the NFU seems to be embracing them defies belief. *
Proposals for an environmental module in the National Dairy Farm Assurance Scheme are a step too far, believes Tim Gue.