Steve Morris

19 October 2001

Steve Morris

Steve Morris farms in the

Forest of Bowland, Lancs, in

partnership with his wife

Valerie. Over half of the

190ha (470 acre) LFA farm

is heather fell, with a further

20ha (50 acres) of rough

grazing. It is stocked with

50 dairy cows, 280 Lonk

ewes, 100 half-breds and

40 gimmer hoggs.

HAVING given three months notice to terminate our contract to Robert Wiseman Dairies, we are now looking closely at all our options. As from Dec 1, our milk will be going to one of the farmer-owned co-ops.

In this area, we have three options: First Milk, The Milk Group or Zenith Milk, all of whom appear to be more able to market our milk more effectively than the co-op we left four years ago.

High up the list of criteria that will influence our final choice of co-op is processing capacity, current and, perhaps more importantly, future plans and aspirations.

Another aspect that will sway our decision may be the option of every-other-day collection. Part of the reasoning here is influenced by our short but steep farm lane. Although access is generally good, the concrete road has deteriorated to the extent that replacement is imminent.

This is, of course, the tenants responsibility and looks like costing in the region of £4000. The current road has lasted for more than 30 years and was installed by the estate when Goodshaw was farmed in-hand. Any option which helps to ensure this is not an issue again in my farming lifetime must be considered closely.

I have no regrets about having been a direct seller since October 1997, only that we felt it was our only option. Wisemans has always treated us fairly and has paid, as it promised, a price that was competitive in league table terms. But that didnt stop the price from falling to well below the cost of production. Now that we have the chance to be part of the solution rather than the problem, we must make our move.

DEFRA vets are due here any day now to blood test our sheep as part of the 10km screening. They initially asked to come in early September, but we asked that it be delayed until fell ewes were gathered for flushing.

Also our own vets have resumed a limited routine visit programme. These have been sorely missed. With consultations being on a telephone call basis and visits limited to fire brigade tasks, any opportunity to get real value for money from extortionate drugs and vaccine charges has been virtually absent. &#42

Full marks to Dennis Bridgeford for innovation following his final assault on the barley crop with a silage mower.

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