Cereals 2006 : FW initiative ‘opens grower’s eyes’

Richard Ward admitted his eyes were opened by HGCA’s FW presentations.

“Until today I didn’t realise how much information was there.”

“The majority of farmers know relatively little about what the HGCA is up to,” noted former Cereals event host Mark Ireland.

In response to Ben Atkinson’s suggestion that much of the data it produced was probably available elsewhere, Mr Cowens stressed that it was independent.

“We have no bias.

We don’t talk markets up or down.”

“It’s been invaluable to us,” commented Kevin Littleboy.

With more than two buyers still vying for his Yorkshire grain, the markets info allowed him to negotiate from strength, he explained.

Many of the research results underpinned advice from third parties, suggested Mr Littleboy.

Growers were getting the messages, albeit with some added interpretation, but were then often effectively paying for it twice.

Steve Bumstead, a TAG member, was particularly impressed by the fungicides research.

“There have been a lot of changes in the past five years and we’ve got to keep ahead of the game.”

John Barrett was keen to find out how carbon footprinting and the Green Grain project could help improve his margins, perhaps through more min-tilling.

All agreed limited time was the big constraint on absorbing information from whatever source.

“Email is fine, but text messages are just annoying,” said James Stafford.

The latter had to be area/grower-specific, added Mr Littleboy.

But Ben Atkinson felt the HGCA was missing a trick.

“The important thing for British agriculture is to get the public buying our produce.

We need a national advertising campaign.”

Mr Cowens countered by highlighting the success of the UKP and UKS wheat branding scheme and the Great British Breakfast promotions.

Nevertheless James Stafford’s suggestion of some form of explanatory booklet on British farming to be placed in hotels and B&Bs was “not a bad idea”.

However, Richard Solari left uninspired by the presentations.

“I’d rather keep my 40p/t [levy],” he said.

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