Half UKs 1998 grain assured as ACCS lifts off
By Andrew Blake
NEARLY half the UKs marketable grain could be assured this harvest.
Over 4500 growers representing 6.5m tonnes subscribed to the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme by Feb 28, says United Kingdom Food Quality Certification. That was the deadline for getting two years registration for the price of one.
Added to the Scottish Assured tonnage of 2m tonnes the volume registered means almost half the estimated 1998 harvest of 18-19m tonnes of marketable cereals, oilseeds and pulses may be assured, says UKASTAs Jamie Day.
Even now 50-60 applications to join are being received each day, notes Tim Hughes, chairman of administrator Checkmate International.
"We have made a commitment to verify all who applied before Feb 28. But people are still applying and we shall fit them in for harvest if possible."
Trial inspections to ensure that common standards are being undertaken by 76 trained verifiers. "Consistency is terribly important," says Mr Hughes. Farm verification visits should start on Mar 23.
Co-ops, especially in the south, as well as merchants have played a big part in smashing the 4000 farmer target, says scheme manager, Bill Young. But more work needs to be done in the north, he admits. "SCATS, Framlingham Farmers, Camgrain, Grainmarque and Cannington Grain have all brought in large numbers of growers. Others are almost committed. Tyne Grain, which represents 425,000t, looks like pushing it for next year which is good news."
Enough growers have registered to tempt some buyers to consider taking only assured grain from this harvest, he claims.
Growers feeding all their own grain on-farm have also shown interest in signing up to comply with livestock assurance schemes, he adds.
More marketing opportunities and potentially lower insurance premiums are the two key benefits growers can expect for their outlay, says Mr Young.
Millers representative Alex Waugh of NABIM welcomes the response from growers, but says it is too soon to comment on buyers intentions. "It is a very good start, but farms have to go through verification. There are also a lot of unanswered questions, for example on regional distribution. But I am sure some buyers will be thinking about it."
• Half UK grain assured this year.
• 4500 farm subscriptions.
• Emphasis in south, east & west.
• Verifying starts Mar 23.