6 July 2001
HGCA faces 10% drop in income
By Debbie Beaton
THE Home-Grown Cereals Authority faces a 1.5m drop in income this harvest following the lowest level of wheat plantings in almost 20 years.
Anticipating the shortfall, the body charged with improving cereals and oilseed production and marketing, has embarked on a round of cost cutting.
Research projects, running costs and promotional activities will bear the brunt of efforts to reduce expenditure.
As the HGCA body relies on levies paid by growers and processors, its income — which averages 15m — hinges on the harvest.
While this always fluctuates, this year the figure will greatly exceed the typical 5% swing, predicted Dr Paul Biscoe, HGCA chief executive on Friday (06 July).
Discussing the HGCAs annual business plan, Dr Biscoe said one of the worst autumns on record, had forced wheat plantings down to their lowest since 1982.
Further bad weather has also impacted on yield potential, which the HGCA estimates will fall 3.5m to 4m tonnes short of last seasons 16.7m tonne wheat harvest.
Running costs, overseas promotions for British Cereal Exports are being cut back and some research activities in November this year are being shelved.
By starting so early, we were actually making cuts on six months of monies collected from the previous harvest, explained Dr Biscoe.
We are confident that can we meet all our commitments presented here today in our annual business plan.
Cutbacks to research activities will total several hundreds of thousands of pounds, confirmed Dr Graham Jellis, head of HGCAs research and development.
However, we have enough in our emergency fund to quickly to any immediate problems that research might need to address, he said.
The estimate for the wheat harvest takes into account that the total area planted to wheat this autumn was 1.68m ha.
That compares with 2.08m ha last season, and yields falling 5% below par.
- Wheat prospects lowest since 1988, FWi, 13 April 2001
- Worst autumn ever hits growers where it hurts, FWi, 08 December 2000
- Cereal levy cut set for July?, FWi, 22 May 1998
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