19 March 1999

NFU calls for new liability

THE governments determination to introduce a statutory right to roam has led the NFU to call for new category of liability to be introduced.

Announcing the right to roam last week, environment minister Michael Meacher tried to reassure landowners that, despite greater access, the public would still have only the same rights as trespassers if they were injured while on farm land.

And this week, in a written reply to a question on landowner insurance costs from David Maclean (Con, Penrith and the Border), Mr Meacher said public liability insurance costs would not increase significantly.

But NFU insurance specialist Iona Ind said a spate of incidents last year, where members of the public suffered serious injuries on farms, led to some landowners being sued.

Lawyers still proved that farmers could have taken more care to prevent accidents occurring.

"With greater access more people will visit farmland and that will lead to an increase in accidents and claims against landowners," said Ms Ind.

She believed that would then lead to an increase in insurance premiums and a new category of public liability was needed to put more onus on the public being more responsible for their own safety &#42

Dairymen plead for more action on ad campaign

FRUSTRATION at the lack of progress with a generic milk advertising campaign, against a background of falling milk consumption, has prompted dairy producers to take action.

Two farmers have made separate calls for producers to get on with raising the money for a campaign which they believe is essential to safeguard the industry.

Adrian Adorian, who milks 180 cows in West Sussex, is asking producers to contribute a minimum of £100 each to fund what he hopes will be a £3m campaign.

"Dairy farmers have talked long enough of the benefits of generic milk advertising. Demand for liquid milk continues to fade. It is time for us as producers to take positive action rather than argue about who should pay for what," says Mr Adorian.

He hopes producers can raise at least £1.5m by Jun 1. Farmers would then go to milk processors and retailers to ask them to match the sum, and a £3m television campaign could then be commissioned. If the idea failed, any money donated would be returned to producers.

Meanwhile, Glos producer Ben Pullen is asking farmers to lend their support to a campaign to change government legislation to allow Milk Development Council levy to be used for promotion.

"The MDC has not been producing research that is of any relevance to the modern dairy farmer and there is no way in the current climate that producers can be asked to pay another levy," he says.

He is inviting farmers to write to him if they support his view.

Producers are increasingly frustrated that there seemed to be no progress on a national advertising campaign, says Mr Pullen.

But Michael Lambert, chairman of the NFUs milk committee disagrees. After NFU members voted in favour of a £10m campaign last year the union had been working hard to get the project up and running, he said.

It was waiting for the minister to respond to a request for a producer poll which would ask farmers to agree to an additional 0.04p/litre levy to be used solely for promotional purposes.

&#8226 Adrian Adorian can be contacted on 0966 474550 and Ben Pullen on 01452 712346. &#42


uA GOVERNMENT grant of £157,000 has been awarded to the Scottish Agricultural College to study the survival of E coli 0157 in watercourses and soils.

uMORE than a million cattle passports have been issued since the launch of the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) on Sept 28 last year. The BCMS has also processed more than a million passports of slaughtered cattle, said junior farm minister Jeff Rooker in a parliamentary written answer. More than 600,000 live cattle movements have now been entered on to the Cattle Tracing System database. Mr Rooker also said that the BCMS helpline had dealt with 140,000 phone calls from farmers.

uTWO free booklets have been issued by the Meat and Livestock Commission offering advice on the health and welfare of sheepdogs and the welfare of pigs. Essential Sheepdog Matters is available from Jenny Anderson on 01908-844109. Anyone seeking the Pig Welfare leaflet should ring Nicola Hyde on 01908-844259.

uPAYMENT of farm subsidies is unlikely to be hit by the millennium bug, with MAFF on course to ensure all its computer systems are converted to recognise the end-of-century date change, according to junior farm minister Lord Donoughue.

uTHE largest prize ever presented at a dairy show in the UK will go to the supreme cow at the DairyScot event on Dec 1. She will receive £5000 and the title "Dairy Cow of the Century". There will be automatic entry to the final line up for supreme dairy champions from eight major farm shows held throughout the UK.

uNEW NFU regional director in East Anglia is Pamela Forbes, currently senior policy adviser in the central region. Mrs Forbes succeeds Robert Downie, who, after three-and-a-half years in the job, is moving to a position with NFU Services, a separate commercial offshoot of the union, which is due to be launched later this year.

uA PUBLIC debate on genetic engineering will be held on Wed (Mar 24) at the Cheese and Grain, Market Yard, Frome. Starting at 7.30pm, speakers are Nigel Halford, senior research scientist at the Institute of Arable Crop Research, and anti-GM campaigner Luke Anderson. The event is being organised by the group Somerset Against Genetic Engineering. &#42

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