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No. 26             DIVERSIFICATION NEWS             SUMMER 2006

 "A terminal logical in exactitude."

Many agricultural businesses do not stock large items unless they have been ordered because of the cost of keeping them. Businesses also plan so that the cost of, for instance, sprays and fertilizer are paid for against an expected income. If that income does not come in because someone like Margaret Becket ran her Department so badly that the money did not reach the farmer on time, then there is greater cost and even greater anxiety.

In looking back at the Rural payments fiasco one wonders how it is that at one moment there was a complete log jam on payments and on the appointment of a new Minister for the Environment David Miliband, farmers are paid within three weeks. If it was that simple to make the majority of payments one wonders if Margarett Beckett hated the Rural Community so much that this was done on purpose? There should be an inquiry to find out the reason for such a disgraceful episode in so many farmers lives.

Margaret Becket has now been appointed Foreign Secretary we earnestly hope that her diplomacy is better with other Nations than it has been with the farming community and that if she has any relationship with the Ministry of Defence that she has no control over paying our soldiers!

The statements that should be looked at in relation to an inquiry, were that Lord Bach said the Rural payments would be made in February and Margaret Becket said in the House of Commons, on the 16th March 2006, that she had been informed all payments would be made by the end of March.

This is what Winston Churchill would have referred to as "a terminal logical in exactitude."

It seems that the DEFRA ministry are walking a tight rope with the administration of their departments and some element of the blame for this must be put at the door of the Chancellor... One asks whether the tight wire walking goes deeper in to juggling the Countries books. It seems that balance of Payments by the Chancellor has taken on a new meaning in that it is the balance of Debts rather than payments as due.

Farmers have to now include in their books payments coming in after the end of their tax year. They will be allowed their rural payment against the year in which it fell, as the Inland Revenue regard the payment as a deemed receipt and despite being paid later, it will be included as a debtor in the books of the farm.

Generally however one questions the motives behind the acts of Ministers who want to see Agriculture 'wither on the vine'. Agriculture will be in the long run the winner but at what cost. After all we are still waiting for an inquiry into why foot and mouth happened. Have any of the meat import loop holes been tightened up?

We should ask if we are really talking about British Agriculture? Are we really talking about that great business that used to be the pride of the Nation and today is regarded by almost all of the parties as being of little or no significance? At least David Cameron visited the Royal Show. Perhaps he may show the industry a direction and improve the moral of farmers.

The Cream of Our Country

Where can those in charge of the destiny of Agriculture go to make the lot of the Farmer better; and how can the actual hands on farmer move to a position where by he feels that the work he does is not only being appreciated but is also financially worth something, not only for the present but for the future. How many times have you heard "my son is not following me into farming because he cannot see a future in it?" What is it that the politicians must do to rectify the situation or is it the politicians who are to blame?

The moaning will be picked up by politicians as being farmers at it again. If farming got to the state it is in the UK, in France, there would have been a National strike by now. We are all too gentlemanly as farmers and most are peddling so fast to keep up that they do not have the time to consider taking outside action. The NFU has not got the confidence of the farmers and the Milk suppliers are too busy negotiating with the Super Markets to worry about what the farmer gets. There must be a price relationship between the farmer the retailer and the supermarket.

"Farmers for action" have shown some form but have been unable to sustain their activity in front of their Public. We have seen nine years of Labour Government and may be some more ahead; but if there is a change to a Conservative Government do they have the resolution to take on real change for the better in the milk industry?

What is real change and how does it come about? It is the view of Landowning Initiatives Ltd that the farmers should spell out what they really want now and it is not only the usual matters discussed like milk and too many forms, there are many other things that matter.

Form filling must obviously go but there have to be a few forms so:

  • Let us categorise those forms into one book which covers every need of the farmer for the year and leave it at that.

  • Let us look at the Communication problem between farmers so every one has a modern IT method of communication which he can understand.

  • Let us look at schemes to give graduates farm experience similar to the Landowning Initiatives own training schemes.

  • Let us teach Children who sit around an opportunity to work with a farmer, game keeper or forest worker so they understand the countryside.

  • Let us look at new methods of intervention to pay the farmer instead of the disgraceful position now existing in relation to annual CAP payments

  • Let us look for farmers, at the new steps being taken in Bio diesel, Polymers, fibre packaging and heat and energy.

All these things could be part of the farmers new world, especially the young farmer.

Let us look at the opportunities for farmers developing in world markets today and consider what you and your neighbours can offer to supply fast developing nations like China, Taiwan or India and see what part we can play, either working as a cooperative or singly. Consider joining a Trade Mission and go and see for yourself before someone else gets your market. Landowning Initiatives Ltd is running its own trade missions this winter so why not join in or ask Landowning Initiatives Ltd to represent you.

There is no point in farmers being isolationist as many are at present. There is a need to get together to challenge the system and not sit down and accept the present treatment. Above all there is a great need to work out how to farm in this modern day, to appreciate that farm diversification is to be considered, but not at the expense of other farm activities and to look at how farm incomes can accumulate into capital as opposed to running out in every day bills.

We had, 10 years ago, the finest agricultural industry in the world with stock fetching record prices and every year the ratchet of Government tries now to close it down. We must now reverse this position which must be done by debate at every level. So, country people stand up and organise yourselves, yes all of you and make those who feel they know a better way, return to the drawing board because what we are doing today in Great Britain is as good as it always has been but in keeping our heads down we have been stamped on too many times.

Shooting Observations

Landowning Initiatives are keen for farmers to create more shoots on their farms as farm diversification. New shoots started recently have been extremely successful. We suggest that you discuss a proposal with us to support shooting. Do not however forget to take note that in the shooting world stringent new regulations are being imposed on people who raise game for sport under the Animal Welfare Bill; to ensure that farmers who raise game do so under a strict Code of Conduct.

BASC, whose objectives are a strong voice, all party backing with balanced comment and creating high standards and continuous shooting opportunities; have complied with the Food Standards Agency for greater food safety in Game. The rules came in on 1st January 2006 and from August 2005 training courses were run to understand the new rules. Over 1,000 people have now been trained. The Game Conservancy are specially concentrating on the issues relating to heather moorland, woodland and farmland issues especially identifying the increase in songbirds on shoots.

The Countryside Alliance is concerned about the pressures being brought about by the Animal Rights movement who they say are pressing the Government for the banning of rearing birds for sport and the banning of young people carrying guns. The time has come when the Nanny State has to go and strong action has to be taken against those who pressurise the State for their own ends.

Global Warming

Global warming is today a factor that has to be kept in mind. The weather incidents that are recorded today and shown on our television screens are beginning to raise the tension of the public to a state that gives off alarm. There are scientists that say it is happening at an alarming rate and there are scientists saying that the correct papers are being changed by spin merchants to make the material easier for the public. It is recorded that the density of CO2 for the 19th Century was 335 parts per million not 290 as used by the IPCC and some 9,600 years ago it was 348; so in other words we have not had such a huge increase as claimed.

Keep a record yourself by comparing the yearly weather. This year has so far been a fairly normal year with snow in January and February. Last year was the same with the cold winds and anvil clouds of March, April Showers in April, the beautiful months of May and June, the weather breaking during Wimbledon and the lovely July weather has arrived leading into the typical thunderstorms. The BBC & ITV heighten the tension to such an extent that the general public are becoming terrified of even looking at the Low or High Pressures on the screen. The deep red of heat or the rise in tension when a gale is arriving.

Now we hear that David Cameron has been to see a Glacier in Norway. Why does he not go to the Southern Oceans and see real climate instead of looking at a single glacier in Norway. Of course the world is changing, it happens every day and has done since the world began but maybe instead of worrying about the weather we ought to be paying more attention to 15000 scientists who disagreed with the findings of the IPCC.

Ragwort Identification

Ragwort sometimes referred to as Staggerweed is one of the most common causes of poisoning horses and cattle in the UK. The BHS has been running a very successful ragwort campaign "Root out Ragwort" for a number of years raising public awareness.

With the help of John Greenaway MP in the Commons and Baroness Masham of Ilton in the House of Lords, the Ragwort Control Act gained Royal Assent and became enforceable in February 2004. If you happen to see Ragwort growing in this coming year especially in a public place or on road side verges it is important to take it out or report it. Councils on the whole are conscientious and teams are seen beside the road in some places tackling this but not everywhere. For the identification of Raggwort ring Landowning Initiatives Ltd on 01404 861 284.

Trust the Chancellor

Families who have family trusts must be aware of the need to get up to date with the latest new laws produced by the Chancellor. He is introducing legislation in relation to new and existing trusts so it could be called "retrospective legislation" (Budget Note 25). The note imposes an immediate 20% tax charge on the creation of a trust plus a further 0.6% charge for every subsequent year. The position has been clarified now that the Finance Act has become Law, This goes back to 22nd March 2006. It covers:

  • Any Will leaving assets to very young children up to the age of 18

  • Where Grandparents bypass their children.

  • Any Will where assets are not left outright to husband/wife (e.g. life interest). Spouse exemption is retained.

  • Existing trusts from 6th April 2008

  • Trustees may have to decide about gifts to children at 18.

  • Divorce trusts.

  • New trusts will suffer the 20% immediate inheritance tax.

It is advisable to review Wills that create trusts for surviving spouses and review lifetime trusts which create a successive life interest before April 2008. Parents should also review their wills where assets are being left to children.

The Influence Of The Orient?

Landowning Initiatives Ltd is now developing its Export service to farmers and is looking at new markets in the Middle and Far East. Having already discussed "the son not coming into the farm business" these markets are surely an opportunity for the next generation to create a new farm business developing goods that can be exported abroad or goods that can be easily imported.

If the son does not immediately want to be stuck on the farm why does he not set up this new foreign arm of the business himself and see a bit of the world and at the same time help Dad indirectly on the farm or with the equestrian business. This may be a solution to getting the son or daughter back and taking an interest in the whole future.

These markets will in the next ten years become the biggest markets in the world. So think what the son, daughter or wife would consider exporting off the farm; or joining with two or three other farmers locally and consult Landowning Initiatives Ltd as to how to go about it; or join our Trade Missions.

Landowning Initiatives Ltd are interested in anyone who wants to be represented who grow or rear Agricultural produce. Equestrian goods and those offering services like Universities & Organisations running training courses on Agriculture and Rural affairs offering places to overseas students.


A Bottle of Berry Bros Champagne for the first to guess one of the names of the two National Countries that have a cockerel on their flag?

Landowning Initiatives Ltd are very active in offering a full farm report on the existing position on the farm and how this can be improved for the future. Take advantage of this service which has now been running for 20 years and from which so many farmfarmers have benefited.

Please ring 01404 861 284

Correct at the time of gong to press.

Landowning Initiatives accept no liability for errors or omissions.