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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Farmer's diary: Curry report verdict
Adam Quinney
Warwickshire livestock farmer Adam Quinney, who wrote a regular column for BBC News Online during the foot-and-mouth crisis, reacts to the Curry report on the future of farming in the England.

Having quickly scanned the 100-plus page report, my first response is one of disappointment.

The farming community has waited with bated breath for this report.

All farmers recognise that the whole food industry has to change to move back into profit.

With that profit we can achieve the objectives that the general population want, good food, high animal welfare standards and good environmental practice.


The lambs that I sell are worth less than a quarter, in terms of buying power, of what they were 25 years ago

Adam Quinney
It is stated in the report that consumers are paying too much for their food compared to the rest of the world.

But British farmers have seen their share of the retail price fall during the past decade.

It seems to the farming community that any inefficiencies in the process and retail industry are covered up by paying less to farmers and charging the consumer more.

This is acknowledged in the report.

But farming, in money terms, is only small when compared to the food industry.

Could that be because we receive so little for our produce?


Imagine your boss saying to you that he is going to reduce your salary by 10% but not to worry he will use that money to put flowers in your work place and send you on a training course!

Adam Quinney

The lambs that I sell are worth less than a quarter, in terms of buying power, of what they were 25 years ago.

The report makes much of modulation.

What is modulation?

Modulation is when money is siphoned away from direct payments to farmers, then used in different schemes.

Imagine your boss saying to you that he is going to reduce your salary by 10% but not to worry he will use that money to put flowers in your work place and send you on a training course!

We already have modulation of around 4%.

That is then matched by the UK Government for marketing and environmental schemes.

Unfortunately some of these schemes are so complex to apply for, that many farmers have not applied.


It is critical for the entire food chain to be world class in efficiency, both for the people in the supply chain and for the consumer

Adam Quinney

Some of the marketing schemes that we have in place seem to provide more jobs for consultants than for the rural community!

The report lists many things that should happen in the farming industry.

A large part of the list is good, such as the food chain centre.

But how this centre will be funded and how the supply chain will find the money to alter their businesses is not mentioned.

It is critical for the entire food chain to be world class in efficiency, both for the people in the supply chain and for the consumer.

I hope that the government will take this approach for their own departments.


I challenge DEFRA to buy a farm, run it in such a manner as to achieve all the objectives of this report and make a profit

Adam Quinney
I am very pleased to see that it is recommended that the UK Government tightens up the controls on imported food.

But will the money be found?

Or will we have the rules announced but with no implementation?

Training is not left out.

But with the average cost of 1,000 for a chain saw or 500 for a material handler course, how far is 250 training credit going to go during three years?

I challenge the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to buy a farm, run it in such a manner as to achieve all the objectives of this report and make a profit.

If they can do that, I will eat my hat!


Previous diaries from Adam Quinney:

  • 7 August: Foot and mouth scapegoats

  • 18 July: A bleak outlook

  • 22 June: A question of economics

  • 15 June: What now?

  • 9 May: Returning to normal

  • 8 May: Death in the afternoon

  • 25 April: Drowning in bureaucracy

  • 19 April: A close shave

  • 12 April: Rain, lambs and skylarks

  • 4 April: Tough decisions

  • 29 March: An Anxious wait

  • 22 March: Staring ruin in the face

  • 12 March: A farmer's fears

  • See also:

    29 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
    Wary welcome for farming report
    29 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
    English farming 'unsustainable'
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