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No. 24             DIVERSIFICATION NEWS             SPRING 2005

Spring Disaster

Agriculture is a very great part of this nation. It is part of the cohesion that holds this country together. There are however the workers and the watchers. The workers are a race of people that have been on the land for years, this is their workplace, they know its ways and by experience that has been handed down have delivered the finest food products of anywhere in the world as well as maintaining a beautiful countryside free of charge.

There are then the watchers who come into the countryside, are usually not country people but expect to use the country ways to suit their purposes either for holidays or as village commuters and who buy property purely to make a profit.

The real country people are now experiencing serious pain and problems and are suffering from the indigestion of paper, officious trading standards officers, new health and safety laws and the effect of a hunting ban brought about by prejudice and ignorance.

If only people in drafting some of these new regulations had listened to the wise words of those whose opinions they should have taken, in relation to matters like TB, Foot and Mouth (we still don't know where it started) and especially in relation to Wild Life Management, they would not be heading for the mess they are likely to incur in the future.

Country people remember when they were the participators within the Nation and their food was urgently required as much as the industrialists have been and are producing for the Nations good.

This has now changed in that some of those very good people are now being treated by the law, as criminals.

This month because a farmer took actions on a movements order 1/2 day ahead of time he was had up in court, made to pay £311.50 in costs and has now had his finger prints taken and been DNA tested in Devon's top police station. Have we taken leave of our senses or is this another contrived method of destroying agriculture?

Those who regarded themselves as the backbone of the nation can no longer make their own decisions to protect their flock from the badger (Western Morning News 9th March 2005) without becoming a criminal themselves or the fish farmer cannot rear his stock without fear of fine and prosecution or attack from animal rights.

If the cohesive Country structure breaks in one area it will split apart overall and will have a very large impact on our nation so the Nation needs to ask itself what is the limit to Parliamentary legislation that a government can impose. With an unwritten constitution the ability to impose legislation is endless and farmers, landowners, hunters, shooters, fishermen and all other country activists must consider what they must do to ensure the survival of true democracy so that it works for all of the people for all of the time and not some of the people for all of the time.

The Whitehall Disease

The days of coming home with the brace of pheasants and leaving them in the outhouse for three weeks may be coming to an end as the laws are changing.

It is a known fact that every law produced from the European Parliament is added to by our own civil servants in Whitehall making the detail of the law far worse but without it being debated by our parliament. This has been shown just recently by the new General Food and Hygiene Regulations (2006).

Those who shoot will need training in food hygiene and cold stores may be needed instead of game larders. It seems that humans today are different to our ancestors so, as little darlings we have to understand that our frail bodies are different from those of the last century and have to be looked after by being trussed up to the neck in more law. The long and short of it is a shoot owner supplying game has to go to school to have training in game hygiene?!

The new laws are:

  • Regulation(EC) No 178/2002 (General food regulation)

  • Regulation (EC) No 852 /2004 known as(H1)

  • Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 laying down specific rules for food of animal origin including game known as(H 2)

It seems you can still give away a brace to your friends but if you run the shoot you may become what is termed a food business (a business run for profit). Therefore, if you decide to diversify into game paté look out the inspectors may be around! Where am I going to get my maggots from for fishing?

On a more serious note there is a very great concern about the powers granted in the new regulations for Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVS) in abattoirs to apply a remedial Action Notice. If this is applied that person applying it can stop the business operating immediately without any notice for any breach of the regulations however minor. It is universally recognised that the regulations governing abattoirs are so comprehensive, prescriptive and ambiguous that this puts much too much power in the hands of the OVS.

The Wall report has already illuminated that OVS's are almost all unemployed new graduate vets from other EU countries who work for private companies and who are not qualified or experienced enough to exercise such power.


The Landowning Initiatives Training Scheme (LITS) was a scheme that LI stopped because the EU funding did not cover the input and Exeter University ran out of that type of funding. This made us realise that EU funding is really only there for a short time before it is changed. This means that any annual grant cannot be relied on as mainstream, and that any scheme must eventually have to stand on its own. That is why much EU funding is only really a booster or a shot in the dark which can make it so dangerous to rely on.

Much of our farming today has relied on CAP spending and other initiatives and now that is changing for the Mid Term Review. Farmers are adopting different attitudes to this change but the clever farmer today is the one who will make his farming work with out the MTR. So in planning farm diversification schemes Landowning Initiatives has to be realistic so we are renewing the LITS programme for farmers in conjunction with the Universities but this time the cost will be included in the overall plan for the farm. Give consideration to using the LITS scheme because the graduates who worked for LITS were excellent and the work they did on special projects was recognised as excellent so take the opportunity now whilst it is there.

What's Going On With Non Fossil Fuel?

The word Non Fossil Fuel covers many markets including Wind Power, Water Power and the Development of Wood Fuel through the growing of energy crops. Wind power has been slightly ahead in its development in the UK but it can be said that in Sweden it is if anything the other way round. Sweden is now producing approximately 23/4% of its energy through non fossil fuel and the UK approx 2%.

Landowning Initiatives is concerned about the present position as to how the Government is supporting the non fossil fuel industry. As a whole it seems that so far as the Government is concerned it is putting all its effort into the development of an industry in a factory making windmills as opposed to on the land supporting the farmers who are growing a wood fuel. This is borne out by a recent e-mail from the NFU who stated that they supported a private members bill in the House of Commons which aimed to encourage public facilities like hospitals, schools and private developments to utilise renewable energy heating systems fuelled by renewable sources including biomass, solar heating and ground heat.

Mr. Prescott has made the nation become aware of what he calls climate change but he has not made the people aware that it is the farmer who is also in a position to do something about it by growing green crops to take up the carbon dioxide. Unfortunately the very time that farmers have an opportunity to achieve in this kind of market place the Government throws out this valuable bill.

For the number of people running around in this industry who have had the cream, especially in Objective 1 areas, surely it is time to put away the theory of business and replace that with real business plans and firm up on ways to make the industry work. The government must give this lead.

It seems however that this idea may not be the flavour of the month because whilst you are struggling to find markets in this industry, the government are making it as difficult as possible to operate, restricting the grants and now bringing out, through DEFRA, more rules on smoke emissions.

Perhaps the attraction of new factories for making wind turbines with 500 jobs per factory is better for the government than a bundle of short rotation coppice which could save the farmer from bankruptcy and give him another diversification.

When you were 18

Some people say "it is hard to remember the old days" or is it? That time in many people's minds was the time of decision, the time to go in the army, to University or to continue to help Mum and Dad on the farm, the time to start having your own opinion and to be getting ideas sorted on the sort of boy or girl that you might be attracted to; the time to stand up and say to your parents that you are leaving the farm to spend your gap year in Thailand.

Having seen the world and having gone back to the farm you now find yourself at the age of 50 having farmed for 30 years and nothing else has happened in your life. You still own with your parents your lovely farm and you are keen to make your life there, but there is something missing. When you were 18 you were good at riding horses or good at making something on the lathe. What are you missing to make your life that bit better?

Your marketing skills that you learnt selling ice cream on the beach have not been used since. That sketch book is still lying on the shelf fifteen years later. You haven't been to your photography club for 20 years. Why not, add value to your life whether it be on your own account or on the farm or in a separate business not related to the farm. You have the skills you have forgotten you had. They have been dormant!! Why not go for it tomorrow? Soon you will be sixty!

Rights of way improvements plan

Not satisfied with creating every line on the map into a right of way under the new mapping system which affects most land owners in the UK, Councils now have the follow up form to ask a series of questions.

  • Did you find the right of way easy to read?

  • Does the right of way improvement plan consider all the issues you expected?

  • Have those groups with interests in rights of way e.g. walkers, landowners etc. been adequately identified?

With questions like this and many more that are similar it is time to call a halt to those people who have run out of a job and are just creating forms for the sake of holding their own jobs.

Abstracting your title into 2012

In 2012 all land in the UK will, by law, have to have a Registered Title. If you have a pile of deeds sitting in the cupboard or more likely stored away in the bank covering some mortgage, now may be the moment to send them to the Land Registry to carry out a voluntary registration. The reason for this is that rather than wait until you have to rush into a scheme and the deeds are needed quickly, you will find it is much cheaper to convey with Land Registration and when the big deal comes up you save money because your registration will take half the time.

Looking forward

It is absolutely essential that with all this trouble around the Agricultural scene that farmers look at how they can create new ideas to take them into the next ten years of their life. Think therefore about:

  • How you generate new income

  • Who is going to do it on the farm

  • What product will it be i.e. Leisure, Alternative crops, Non fossil fuel etc

  • Consider our Renewable Obligations to create bio gas markets or add value on your milk by creating a healthy milk drink for the local school.

  • Consider where your markets are developing e.g. China for that original product you are producing like woad or even semen. The Chinese cannot copy that!

  • Look at your money opportunities maybe with a business angel.

  • Clear the decks so as to not be affected by the existing Government policies or hope that a new government will look after your interests.

Remember what we are witnessing in the decline of Agriculture in Zimbabwe is in a way similar to what will happen to our agricultural economy if we let it. What if the UK ran out of food being grown because we were importing all of it?

Dairy farmers of Britain reported that their membership has gone down by 10% from March 2004. This is mainly because farms cannot increase production to 90,000 litres p.a., but also because the next generation do not want to take the business on. It is considered that the average loss to the industry every year is around 4-5% so this is high for one operator.

In the next five years we want to see in Agriculture a clear lead given by Government so we must ensure that a government is elected that cares about the future of our Agriculture and not be involved in a European policy which in the end will destroy the excellence of our business. It's up to you.


Who can win a bottle of Berry Bros Champagne and win the quiz. First person to tell us in three words what the following is to do with:

  1. Thoma

  2. Scylla

  3. Charybdis


Late press

Does any farming family want to join in the filming of their farm over a period of 1 year when we see the family going through the difficulties of Diversifying on their farm? The farm is intended to be made in a series of 8 or 12 sessions and will involve the public knowing about the detail of the family from start to finish. More details Contact Michael Ford 01404 861 284.


Correct at the time of gong to press.

Landowning Initiatives accept no liability for errors or omissions.