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No. 25             DIVERSIFICATION NEWS             SUMMER 2005

The Ashes of Summer

We have had a long hot summer and much has happened in the world some of which has seriously affected the farming industry.

Now that our farms are on the Single Farm Payment Scheme we wait with concern for the proposed payment which has been postponed for late payment. How can farmers plan to run an industry on this basis?

We have seen the voting against a Constitution for Europe – does this mean the European Regional offices go or will this government just ride this one out to calmer waters? If so who will be making decisions affecting the Countryside?

We have seen our tennis players dismissed in the early rounds despite Andrew Murray, an 18 year old, doing better than all other members of the English team but our finest achievement this year is that we have won the ashes the English team have bounced the Australians at last "Well Done England".

We have seen serious terrorism and deaths in London and many principles of good living shot to pieces by the Yob Culture by which we seem to be afflicted.

How does the state of affairs that exist in our Countryside affect us, especially from a diversification point of view? We believe the need to achieve in the Countryside runs deeper than one realises and those in the Countryside need to be looking to see how a change in National events can be of advantage to a person owning land which will help them to survive.

A good example is that there will now be Schools looking for more ground to play cricket on as a result of England winning the ashes. A large number of playing fields have been sold off by the Government for development so our young people cannot just go out and play a team game from the school door as the pitch is now not there. So, landowners, consider looking to see what sort of land you have available to create new facilities for young people again. No doubt Mr Blair, as we have won the ashes, will now jump on this band wagon.

Held up?

Recently the Bra Campaign from China may have opened up a two way dialogue between China and Britain. Land owners should consider how they can get into the very large market in the East to export their product. Perhaps you should ask yourself if you have a fibre you can convert to a textile or even an army of wool knitters on or near the farm to create a product you can sell to China or the Far East? Worth exploring the opportunity? Why not join an Export Club?

The Yob Culture

We should all contribute to the Yob culture outcry and Mr Blair has set aside £35M for this. Ask where that money is going and whether your farm could not offer a training ground for such a venture.

We should try and lead especially young people into areas of opportunity, including the development of work opportunities or creating a scheme on the farm for Starter Homes in conjunction with Housing Associations.

The rural areas must also stand up to the city areas and by their example show that life is full of manners, respect and a life style everyone can enjoy if they all take the trouble.

We must seek the opportunities that are out there to keep our country up to the standards we expect by creating business opportunities that our young people can recognise. We must also start to involve both town and country in the new ventures we create. This is specially shown by our Company inviting you to join in the National Scheme for Tall Ships adventures which can do so much for networking communities (see below "A Star to guide you".)

The Weather and Wheat disease

Farmers have farmed experiencing drought, crop failure, floods, tornadoes and warm wet summers. We have seen the destruction in places like New Orleans where buildings have been damaged and blown away. Apart from being blown away what has happened to the crops in these different climatic conditions? Scientists have been working to achieve hardier crops and wheat which have been produced for those different climatic conditions giving the farmer the opportunity for instance to grow cereals in what has been predominantly livestock country.

This has opened up new opportunities in Biofuels where cereal companies are beginning to look at the development of Biogas, something Landowning Initiatives Ltd had within their Diversification selection of opportunities at the Royal Show in 2000/01 and Smithfield in 2003 This development is now happening and should be studied.

Again in relation to wheat, the European Commission has set maximum limits for fusarium mycotoxins in cereals and cereal products intended for human consumption. The limit set for DON of 1250 parts per billion (ppb) in unprocessed wheat will apply from July 2006.

Lower limits are set for end products (750ppb) for wheat intended for certain purposes. These limits do not apply to feed grain. Agronomic decisions made in Autumn 2005 and thereafter, will affect the potential mycotoxin contents of 2006 harvested wheat, by which time legal limits will apply. The plants can be provided by ringing Landowning Initiatives Ltd.

Growing Crops in the Warmer Climate

In the sort of weather we are having, apart from damage from some heavy rain showers, the weather, has been good for wine-making which is becoming a common product along with soya beans and even some sunflower but with limited success.

We hope everyone will study their weather themselves and enjoy the fruits of their labours as a result. Weather comes and weather goes, at times it is bad and at times it is good so let's relax and hope we are not all becoming neurotic in the countryside.

Unjust Attacks

Why should a farmer be deprived of his living just because a group of objectors do not like his proposed project. A modern free range poultry farm being created in the South West is an example. Individuals who shall be nameless clubbed together recently to collectively object to a modern chicken farm being constructed on a farmers' land. Every Authority consulted including the Planning Officers concerned and the Highways, had no objections to the application. It was also pointed out that all transport problem, smell, effluent and disposal of litter had been solved or if not would be subject to a Sec 106 Agreement; and yet people living locally even some 5 miles away objected to a person trying to make his living out of farming by applying for a new permission.

The state of the country is such that it is almost more important to enable people to live their lives with their designer gardens than it is for someone to contribute to supplying the best possible food to the Nation.

When is this nation going to sit up and recognise the importance of the farming industry and put British food first as opposed to food from the Middle and Far East Countries? Probably when we have a team of farmers who win the ashes!

The same problems apply to the milk industry with this Government imposing more onerous rules and regulations. Like for instance the Trading Standards stepping up their inspections and condemning milk parlours when farmers don't have the money to upgrade and no chance of a grant.

There are now farmers with criminal records for breaking the five day movements order and yet the Government is still failing to take any remedial steps in relation to T.B. in badgers.

There is still an all out attack by the Government on farming and this is unacceptable. Welfare officers checking up on the smallest detail trying to catch the farmer out; newcomers objecting to country smells and even the crowing of the cockerels show how we are changing for the worse as a Nation in the Countryside.

What should be remembered is not to misjudge the farmer because what the farmer has to put up with is making him more resilient than most people thought.

Food in the Market Place

The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development has said in an Article on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development, that by the year 2025 83% of the expected global population of 8.5 billion will be living in developing countries. Yet the capacity of available resources and technologies to satisfy the demands of this growing population for food and other Agricultural commodities remains uncertain.

Agriculture has to meet this challenge mainly by increasing food production on land already in use and by avoiding further encroachment on land that is only marginally suitable for cultivation.

But, however food is produced, the farmer must have a fair return and among other people the UK Supermarkets must understand this position. A recent example of action taken by a UK supermarket was making farmers in South Africa accept a 2 for 1 payment on bunches of grapes thereby putting many farmers into bankruptcy.

Many fruit growers who supply the markets in the UK suffer a similar fate and they either have to take it or leave it. The dominant attitude is not acceptable especially when farmers are struggling to diversify into new products.

Major adjustments are needed in agricultural environmental and macroeconomic policy at both National and International levels in developed as well as developing countries, to create the conditions for sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD).

This observation necessitates farmers who are thinking of the future to try and understand the ways forward, to meet these demands and to look at ways of creating new projects on the farm by adding value, for instance in processing a meat product, cutting it up and packaging it on the farm.

Farmers should look at new areas maybe of Textile or Fish production and the new methods available for processing them on the farm. There are so many farm products that can be a basis for diversification including semen (animals of every kind), alternative meats, additional milk products cheese and vegetables; it is essential that farmers start thinking how they set up in this new world to maximise their profits. This also applies to agricultural suppliers who will need to look at developing countries to see if the opportunities are there. Your local export Club will help.

There will be a need to study the availability of grants and it would be worth looking at the Food Quality, Innovation Programme and the new link opportunities as being one area of opportunity.

So far as the whole of the farming scene is concerned it is going to be essential to make those who govern understand the need to prepare for the long term future and of this there is absolutely no evidence at present.

Bad law

There are seven different types of Democracy which were derived in ancient Greece "demos" means people and "kratos" means rule. To explain all the areas will take some time but they cover areas like "participatory democracy" "totalitarian democracy" "pluralist democracy" and "democratisation".

Once again the Countryside is being confronted by the Animals Rights campaigners by turning the screw on "Shooting" and Ben Bradshaw is proposing new controls under the new Animal Welfare Act on raising gamebirds.

As with Hunting a group of people intentioned on stripping the countryside of its traditional rights are blowing up their muscles against a minority.

If the people who voted did it for the right reasons and had the knowledge to understand what they were doing then it would be acceptable, but to try and destroy the very fabric of how the country exists and works is not a matter of democratic law, when those voting really have no knowledge about keeping the delicate balance in the Countryside and voting for the wrong reasons. The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is in the forefront of defending shooting on a National Basis together with the scientific research from the Game Conservancy and the action taken by the Countryside Alliance.

A Straw House

With the need for first homes rising and the building market if anything falling, it might be best to consider in the rapidly expanding natural sustainable market the construction of a straw house.

Straw Houses are beginning to become popular and are accepted by Planning Authorities. A straw bale building can be constructed for a small shed as much as for a house or bungalow. The basic living unit can be small and made expandable. Most plans are based on either a 3 foot two string or a 4 foot bale module. The impression inside is that similar to a thatched house being cool in summer and warm in winter.

Anyone wanting to receive instruction as to how to build one or considering having one built please telephone Chris Henley to help develop your project on telephone number: 01297 489 615.

And a Star to guide you

Landowning Initiatives Ltd is supporting the Tall Ships Youth Trust which runs the Brigs Prince William and the Starvos Niarcos. Voyages are available from ages 16-75, so why not have a break from the farm and see a different way of life for a week or so?

The Tall Ship Youth Trust has had over 65,000 people through its hands. It was originally formed in 1957 by a team of people helped initially by Hugh Goodson of Dartmouth and resulted in the Winston Churchill and the Malcome Miller Schooners being built. These have been replaced by the ships mentioned above. There is also an exchange scheme available where Nations meet Nations and sail on each others ships.

Call their reservations team on 023 9283 2055 for further information.


Name which of the following is the odd one out:

  1. Emperor

  2. Duke of Burgendy

  3. White Admiral

  4. Monarch

Who can win a Bottle of Berry Bros Champagne First person to call us on 01404 861 284 with the correct answer.

Correct at the time of gong to press.

Landowning Initiatives accept no liability for errors or omissions.