15 March 2002

WESTMORLAND TAKES THE PRACTICAL LINE

THE Royal Agricultural Society of England, with regional agricultural societies, is mounting a series of AgriVision events throughout England in 2002. In Cumbria, the Westmorland Agricultural Society has taken on board the message that farmers are sick of being harangued by speakers with blue sky ideas.

Rodger Read, WAS manager, is determined the Societys AgriVision North West event will concentrate on practical issues. Two upland farms from the region (see below) have been selected as working examples in which speakers give direct advice, ensuring a down-to-earth approach. A group of experts will visit the farms in advance and report their findings at the conference. Numbers are limited to 75.

EVENT DETAILS

Where: Lane Farm, Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7NH.

When: Wed, 27 Mar, 2002.

Time: 9.30am-3pm.

Pre-conference farm visits:

Kit Crag:

Bob Cartwright, Lake District National Park Authority; James Carr, farmer, Carlisle; Malcolm Stansfield, RASE.

Hallbeck:

Richard Hallhead, farmer, Cockerham; Alistair Wannop, farmer, Carlisle.

Conference speakers: All the above, plus farmers James Dixon and Robert Waller; Chris Blundell, Morrison Supermarkets; Joâl Baud-Grasset, farmer from the French Alps; A British farmer working in the food chain; Col Eddy Yorke, RASE.

Further information: Tel 01539-567804, fax 01539-567011, e-mail rread@westmorland.org.uk, web-site www.westmorland-county-show.co.uk

Cost: Entry, parking, refreshments and lunch provided free.

Sponsors: AgriVision Westmorland is sponsored by farmers weekly and Morrison Supermarkets.

IT would be hard to find a farm that more closely typifies the problems posed by current and projected government policy than Hallbeck, Killington, Cumbria.

The Waller family is committed to the industry, despite the fact that most of its 136ha is LFA.

In spite of this, the family manages a 75-cow pedigree dairy herd, finishes up to 90 beef cattle a year and runs a flock of 410 ewes. They also rear 450 turkeys for Christmas trade.

Not much spare time there for diversification then, even with the help of Mr Wallers 70-year-old father. And the potential resources are little better. The farm is more than two miles from a main road, along bad, single-track lanes. With no passing trade, a shop or B&B are out of the question.

"Weve been looking at the options, but have so far found nothing viable," says Mr Waller. "Im open to ideas."

WE need to know whether all this talk about diversification and modulation is worth anything or whether its hot air, says James Dixon.

Thats what prompted him to offer his farm business as a public test-bed where those who advise on the future of farming can demonstrate their theories in practice.

The Dixon family runs freehold Kit Crag alongside a similar tenanted farm. Each is 175ha (432 acres) in area. Kit Crag has 60ha (150 acres) of fell and rough grazing running up to 336m (1100ft), the remainder being lower, improved pasture and mowing grass.

There is a 70-cow dairy herd and a ewe flock comprising 530 purebred Swaledales and crosses.

The farm is three miles from a main road, and the family has considered a fishing pond and generating their own electricity from water flow. But there are no other apparent options.

NOT MUCH SCOPE

TO DIVERSIFY

WONDERING IF ITS ALL HOT AIR

The Dixons remain to be convinced about diversification.

The Waller family – spare time for diversification is limited.