Nearly 60% of those responding consider crop assurance important, though there is a significant minority who believe it of no importance whatsoever.

Crop assurance chartAndrew Kerr questions whether the public has ever heard of the schemes.

Jamie Rogers regards crop assurance as “a necessary evil”. But for James Porter it is effectively a licence to grow soft fruit.

Richard Payne points out that it guarantees him nothing – only peace of mind for processors.

Robert Stevenson says it helps meet some supermarket protocols. “It’s good to do something for the environment. But don’t be kidded that this is a lot of money.”

Nick Davidson points out that he cannot sell to his co-op without being an SQC member.



More than three-quarters of the grain grown on barometer farms is marketed by the producers themselves. Only 6% goes through merchants’ pools, but 15% is handled by co-ops.

For Keith Snowball marketing is “fun”. Charlie Edgley & Robert Stevenson both use co-ops.

“I’ve been with a co-op for 10 years and been very pleased with the service,” says the former.

“The co-op has worked so far. But we’re monitoring performance,” says the latter.


Nearly four in every 10 barometer farms have experienced grain delivery rejections in the past year. But of those rejections only four are said to have been fully justified.

However only one respondent believes that in their case the decision was unjustified – plenty admitting that the subject was debatable.

“One load of beetle contamination in the middle of a 600t heap? Never!” comments Brian Shaw. “I’ve turned away an empty lorry infested with beetles this season. I now suspect some past problems came with the lorry.”

Andrew Kerr has had two moisture claims. “The firm charged £4/t per 1% moisture excess. That’s £120 per load which was promptly tipped on the same heap anyway, according to the lorry driver.”

Eric Haggart is having a load of malting barley, rejected for poor germination at a maltster’s store, independently tested after his merchant found in his favour after two further tests on the sealed sample.

“The cost of rejection in haulage alone would be nearly £400,” he says.


Among our regional representatives there is rather more concern over the shrinking choice of outlets for their produce than there is over the dwindling number of input suppliers.

Slightly more than half are members of a buying group.

Richard Payne fears fewer suppliers means less competition, but Simon Porter is unperturbed. “There is still seems plenty.”

Machinery spares are a worry for Keith Snowball. “People don’t hold stocks as they did in the past, and it’s made worse by having fewer suppliers.

“Fewer buyers equal less competition,” he adds.

“If I was concerned I’d join a co-op,” says Jim Goddard.

John Best says he is more worried about cheap imports and the industry’s dependence on supermarkets.

But fewer outlets are a big worry for Mike Cumming.


Purchased seed is marginally more popular than farm-saved on our barometer farms. In cereals and oilseed rape it accounts for 54% and 61% of production respectively.

“I don’t consider farm-saved seed to be worth the hassle in the logistics of organising it,” says Charlie Edgley.

Increasing club-root problems rule out home-saving oilseed rape, points out Nick Davidson.