Crops review sets HGCA agenda

 BETTER COMMUNICATION with growers, more work on non-food crops, better market prices and more carefully selected committee members are all demanded of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority in a new NFU-backed industry review.

Commissioned last year, the independently run Cereals Industry Review collated views from all parts of the industry, including growers, processors and traders.

Its detailed report, with 28 action points, was submitted to the HGCA last week (w/e Nov 19).

Welcoming its findings HGCA chairman John Page said responses will be forthcoming in 2005. “We have a great deal to do ourselves now.”

The report will help to show DEFRA the need for the HGCA during next year‘s levy body review, he added.

A key issue identified by the review is the need for better representation, said NFU representative Mark Ireland, a FARMERS WEEKLY Farmer Focus writer from Lincolnshire.

“We need suitably qualified individuals on the committees, and we‘re not always getting that at the moment. We need practical people.”

Market information that is relevant and accurate was demanded, particularly for regional pricing, where growers felt regional prices bore little relation to reality, Mr Ireland suggested.

“That is important when growers are being paid on feed-plus pricing. It‘s rumbled on in the past and it‘s something we need to get to the bottom of now.”

Every part of the consultation recognised non-food crops as crucially important.

The review calls for a strong programme of activity to tackle all stages of non-food cropping and processing, with the HGCA facilitating the creation of a new cross-industry group to develop the biofuels industry in the UK.

Full details can be found in FARMERS WEEKLY (Nov 26).