Archive Article: 2001/06/15

15 June 2001

If farmers thought MAFF a cumbersome department mired in red tape, they could be even less impressed with its successor.

The most obvious characteristic of Department fo


Even more important to keep lid on pollution

UK farming has made great progress towards safeguarding the environment in recent years.

The livestock sector in particular has, with encouragement from the Environment Agency, made great efforts to curb pollution.

True, a lack of cash has been blamed for it lagging behind other industries in reducing incidents. And the weather has also caused some extreme difficulties particularly with slurry and manure storage.

But with the recent changes in government it will be even more important for livestock producers to minimise the risks of pollution.

Industry united against 20-day standstill plan

Seldom does the industry unite so strongly on a single issue.

But farmers leaders have joined together to condemn the governments proposed 20-day standstill on livestock.

The plans aim, to cut the risk of rapid disease spread that fuelled foot-and-mouth, must be right. But the method is not.

Responses to the proposal, handed to ministers this week, spell out the disaster that would befall our livestock industry if this idea were introduced. It would lock up vital livestock movements and cost millions.

The industry has come up with alternative plans, which will meet the governments aims at less cost. Ministers at the new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should act swiftly.

The old plan cannot work. DEFRA should establish a working party with industry as soon as possible to produce a viable alternative.

Firms must help meet stewardship burden

Fighting off proposals to tax pesticides, which could cost the industry £120m a year, is vitally important.

But is everyone playing their full part?

Farmers could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. After all, they are expected to fork out more than £11m a year on a range of voluntary stewardship measures, compared with nearer £2m from the agchem makers.

But maintaining a united front now, to work with this new greener-than-ever government, is vital. Manufacturers have a major task to support, encourage and help growers meet this hefty stewardship burden.

Genesis move backs whole-farm assurance

Whole-farm assurance makes perfect sense – it avoids duplicate farm visits, cuts costs and promotes best practice across the entire farm.

So, not surprisingly, the whole-farm assurance scheme operator Genesis has declined an offer to verify the combinable crops-only ACCS scheme.

Genesiss decision could be regarded as divisive. But let us hope it prompts other organisers and the NFU to redouble their efforts to seek a whole-farm assurance scheme. Only such a comprehensive scheme will give consumers the full reassurance they demand.

Not big ideas, small returnable containers

Good idea, fine intentions, and plausible logistics, but will they become popular?

Returnable containers for agrochemicals have long captured the imagination of some, but have never achieved widespread popularity.

For years agrochemical companies have experimented with a variety of systems with only limited success. Will their latest introduction, a 640-litre international bulk container, approved to hold glyphosate, fare any better?

Perhaps it is time agrochemical companies ditched grand solutions to the problem of container disposal and concentrated instead on developing small returnable containers for the mass market.

On your feet – the march may still be on

Marching on London is an ideal way of showing the government that the countryside means business.

For too long our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. So it is good news that the Countryside Alliance is still considering holding the Countryside March. The event, cancelled in the spring due to foot-and-mouth, could now go ahead this autumn.

As the Alliances chief executive explains to Farmlife, whether or not the Alliance holds the event also depends partly on the potential level of support. So make your views known. If you want to March, tell the Alliance.

You might yet get the chance to vote with your feet.

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