UNIONS GET GENERAL THUMBS UP
Nearly 80% of respondents belong to a farming union, though views differ widely on the help it provides.
Of those prepared to comment 63% consider it helpful.
“Every rule is dictated by politics,” says Paul Temple. “All subsidies received come via politics. The NFU is the only organisation [in England] that can deal with both national and EU politics.”
Keith Snowball views it is a source of specialist advice.
But Robert Stevenson finds membership only slightly helpful. “There are too few of us, too busy with our own businesses, to make an effective lobby to a government which doesn’t want to hear.”
Ian Brown considers the NFU a “declining empire”
HGCA UNDER FIRE
Our barometers are more critical of the HGCA. Only 38% believe the information it provides is really valuable. Over half say it is only slightly valuable, and two reckon it is of no value whatsoever.
“Some of the information appears to re-invent the wheel,” says Robert Stevenson.
Keith Snowball reckons most of it is useful. “But they spend too much money telling us how good they are.”
Nick Davidson believes many of the facts and figures can be obtained from other sources.
“HGCA is now being replaced by TAG for information,” adds Giles Blatchford.
Jim Goddard values the HGCA’s Recommended Lists but little else on offer.
“They need to be more ‘cutting edge’,” urges Andrew Kerr. “How about helping us develop biofuels from our crops?”
AGRONOMY HELP BROADLY WELCOME
Four out of five barometer farms employ an agronomist with advice sources fairly evenly distributed.
Giles Blatchford is one of only nine who do not rely on such services. “I do my own crop-walking,” he says.
“One of the best decisions I made was getting rid of a trade agronomist and employing an independent,” says Charlie Edgley.
“I use two agronomist which keeps them on their toes,” says BASIS-trained Keith Snowball.
VI VIEWS MIXED
Nearly two-thirds of our regional representatives consider the Voluntary Initiative important.
“It shows we care,” explains James Porter.
But only one in four thinks the VI should be extended to cover inputs beyond pesticides, and there is a vociferous minority of anti’s.
“Don’t get me started,” warns Jamie Rogers.
“We are doing a good job anyway,” says Andrew Kerr. “If a tax is introduced the chemical price will have to drop anyway.”
“There’s no financial benefit, and it will probably not stop a tax on pesticides or other damaging legislation,” says Eric Haggart.
However Robert Ramsay believes the VI should cover fertilisers. “Correct fertiliser spreading has the best environmental impact,” he argues.
RESISTANCE RISKS RECOGNISED
Nearly everyone acknowledges the threat of pesticide resistance.
“We must strive to keep as big an armoury of pesticide actives as possible,” urges Les Anderson.
“We have resistant ryegrass on the farm and have to be very careful in our strategy for control,” says Charlie Edgley.