2 March 2001


uFOOD production will still be the core role of farming, but development prospects lie in the non-food uses of land and resources. John McInerney, director of agricultural economics at Exeter university told the Sentry Conference in Cambridge that many farmers would draw back from expanding agricultural output and concentrate on meeting demand for non-food goods and services.

uNEW payments are to be made available to farmers in the Brecks area of East Anglia who are willing to help conserve the rare stone curlew. There are only 250 pairs of the birds in Britain, 70% of which nest in East Anglia on open, stony ground.

uKATE Parminter, director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, has denied that the organisation is anti-farmer and anti-change. Speaking at the Sentry Conference, she said CPRE did not want the "fossilisation" of the countryside. She claimed the organisation had a shared agenda with many farmers although it would resist any relaxation in planning laws. "We will continue to champion the need for a robust planning system."

uENVIRONMENT Agency officials are investigating how slurry from a local farm got into Bradiford Water at Muddiford, North Devon. The slurry affected one downstream fish farm where around 70% of the fish were killed. A second fish farm at West Pilton was able to shut off its water intake to stop pollution entering.

uA HIGHER profile media role for the Royal Agricultural Society of England was discussed at the Sentry Conference. Mike Calvert, RASE chief executive admitted the idea had been discussed because the messages going out from the industry tended to be mixed. "As an industry we have been poor at feeding messages through," he said. &#42

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