Archive Article: 2001/07/13

13 July 2001

Stock questions that need answering soon

How many cattle, pigs and sheep, calves, piglets and lambs have been removed from the production chain in the past five months? Even industry analysts are unsure.

Meat and Livestock Commission guesstimates suggest a 1m head lamb surplus, a 13% drop in prime cattle and "an imbalance in the pig market" due to lack of exports. But nobody knows the true figures.

What is certain is that producers will need help this autumn. Brussels and Whitehall have made an encouraging start, showing welcome flexibility to stocking rate rules under the extensification premium scheme, and to quota usage rules.

More is needed, in particular private storage aid for sheepmeat, a purchase for destruction scheme for light lambs and a substantial increase in the 20% heifer inclusion rate for suckler cow premium. Only such help will offer many producers a future.

Knowledge Transfer never more vital

Its good to talk; as British Telecom used to be so fond of telling us. But, as many producers testify, the most useful talking is often done on farm walks, at shows or with vets and consultants.

Those forums were confidently picked last year for disseminating vitally needed research and technical knowledge through the governments Knowledge Transfer programme. That was long before the first foot-and-mouth outbreak.

But the project still goes on. Thankfully, FARMERS WEEKLY is able to play its role in turning hard won science into better farming practice. Never before has easily digested technical knowledge been more important than now.

Official crackdown on seed royalty bills

Are you planning to save cereal and oilseed rape seed this harvest? The technique can cut input costs. But there is a price to pay – a royalty to the plant breeders who developed the varieties in the first place. That is the law and it is now being used to ensure breeders get their reward.

Officials from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are pursuing growers who failed to comply with farm-saved seed royalty regulations.

If found guilty they could be fined three times the unpaid royalty for the past three years, payable at the full certified seed rate, plus costs. That could amount to thousands of pounds. Why chance it?

Which approach best for pig disease?

The pig wasting disease, PMWS is still something of a mystery. Causes are difficult to establish and cures hard to find.

In the modern world full of quick fixes, it is hard to accept that the solution may lie in good husbandry. Big cuts in stocking may seem the wrong solution on units trying desperately to compensate for mortality rates of up to 20%. But one unit adopting this approach has experienced a revolution in combating the disease.

Its answer may be slow and not a traditional cure, as our Livestock Section explains. But anything that eliminates that sinking feeling on discovering yet more dead young pigs should be worth a try.

Autumn decisions need thought now

Cant wait to get this combinable crops season behind you and start anew? For growers itching to see harvest done and drilling underway, decisions this autumn need more attention than ever.

Achieving the right balance of crops and varieties is always important. But the unusually large area of set-aside and the widespread desire not to be caught out by another wet autumn could prove too tempting.

Lets hope it doesnt lead growers into practices some may regret later. The key, as our Seeds Focus points out, is to beware the traps.

Top keeper trio up for the big award

Its always a pleasure to report good news from the beleaguered British countryside. So FW is more than happy, in conjunction with the CLA Game Fair, to highlight the three finalists in our Gamekeeper of the Year Award.

Each is a real ambassador for the craft. And with country pursuits under renewed attack its vitally important to get the message across that wildlife and the landscape benefit from a well managed countryside.

Not only are the finalists dedicated keepers who work to best practice – they go out of their way to explain their methods to the public. Good luck to each contender, profiled in Farmlife.

, for the remainder of the contest.

See more