Archive Article: 2000/09/15

15 September 2000

Rare breed on UK farms – the new entrant

New entrants to dairying are becoming something of a rarity.

Not surprising when one considers the total lack of government aid to help them. Farm minister, Nick Browns, recent decision to leave young farmers out of his rural development package is a case in point.

Compare that with France, where fresh blood is encouraged with an array of grants, preferential interest rates and tax concessions, as our Dairy Event supplement explains. Investing for the future is how the French see it. Interfering with market forces is the UKs interpretation.

But that market is causing the biggest exodus from dairy farming in living memory. Unless the government does something to help the next generation, there will not be much of an industry left in a few years.

Barmy EU rules no friend of environment

Heres an irony: The government never wastes a chance to remind everyone how support paid to farmers is increasingly targeted at environmental goals.

But, as MAFF tries to recruit new entrants into its agri-environment schemes, farmers already tied into 10-year Countryside Stewardship contracts are facing reduced payments from next month. Under bizarre EU rules, payments go down when farm incomes go down.

Farmers who budgeted for environmental projects on payments made when they joined the scheme, will now find themselves short of money. And farmers can leave the scheme only if they pay all grants they have received back to MAFF. So read the small-print before you sign on the dotted line.

Pat on back for top BPC spud promotion

UK potato production is among the best in the world.

And the world should have no doubt about that after last weeks World Potato Congress and Potato 2000 field days in Holland.

Thanks to the British Potato Council, our industry was strongly represented. A British reception at the Congress in Amsterdam collared the leaders of the global industry before the Dutch trade could get at them. And the British trade area at Potato 2000 provided a focused area of British expertise.

Moreover, government funding was found for much of the cost, rather than levy-payers cash. So, as one grower put it, well done, BPC. Now we look forward to the results.

List change helps pick right maize variety

Making the most of maize can be a tricky business; particularly in a season such as this when cold, wet weather has not helped crops.

It is during these seasons that choosing the right variety really counts. And that choice should be easier this year with changes to NIABs Descriptive List. Those changes should allow growers to choose varieties which will perform well in their circumstances. It will give more information and a better guide for decision-making.

The move may not go far enough for some. But it is certainly a step in the right direction and one which many maize growers and breeders will welcome.

Better cereal survey puts you in picture

Information is everything in these days of fast-moving grain markets.

So efforts made by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority to update its cereal quality survey are welcome.

Last year, the survey was criticised for being out of touch with commercial reality. Too few samples were being taken and they bore little relation to the crops true quality, the trade maintained.

Over the winter, the HGCA tackled that criticism head-on. Its new survey uses thousands of trade test results to provide the most definitive quality picture possible. With tests conducted to British Standards protocols and MAFF approving the procedures too, that gives the industry a powerful new tool to guide marketing decisions.

Raise a glass to the very best of British

You dont need an excuse to eat a roast, but heres extra encouragement – Roast and Toast Day on Oct 29.

Our aim is to get as many people as possible in towns and rural areas to tuck into a roast and raise a glass to toast British Farming. As our Farmlife Section explains, it will be a chance to come together with families, friends or colleagues to celebrate the best of British.

A chance to enjoy a delicious, traditional meal, and to put aside some of our worries and look ahead to the better times in farming.

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