"The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not mean all who were laughed at were geniuses. They laughed at Columbus. They laughed at Fulton. They also laughed at Bozo the clown." Carl Sagan
In week ended 5th January, the deadweight prime cattle average price levelled on the week at 365.0p/kg. read more
As domestic lamb continues to compete with increased volumes of cheaper imports and demand remains subdued, DW lamb prices eased in week ended 5th January. read more
World prices eased back towards the end of 2012 although remained at levels comparable to the same period in 2011. read more
Having shot to record levels during September and October, GB finished pig prices continued to rise in November and early December, albeit more slowly. read more
The GB weekly average price rose by £4.63/t to £227.93/t and the free-buy average fell by £4.45/t to £330.74/t. read more
Mid-January saw the release of much-anticipated information from the USDA in the form of world supply and demand estimates, US winter wheat plantings, final 2012 production estimates and quarterly stocks. read more
The USDA data set a bearish tone for oilseed markets with upward revisions to US and Brazilian crops. read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Iona Walton discusses the need for stronger UK Government support for growers and farmers with Simon Foad of the Kent-based Highland Investment Company.
The UK horticulture and farming industries need strong backing from the newly formed British Government if they are to stand a chance against their European competitors. Simon Foad, who was awarded Progressive Farmer of the Year at the Farm Business Food and Farming Industry Awards 2009 (sponsored by Agrovista), believes the Government must promote British fruit more vigorously, while actively support research.
“We follow European legislation to the letter, but some of our colleagues abroad are less stringent,” Mr Foad points out. “Other EU countries have the additional advantage of cheaper labour and lower costs, so the need for support from our own Government is more important than ever before.”
Farm manager of the Highland Investment Company, near Canterbury in Kent, Mr Foad’s arrival on the fruit production scene was via a circuitous route from a stint as a tractor driver and sprayer operator to years of study at Rothamsted Research and Wye College.
After managing a pick-your-own unit at Swanley in Kent, he was appointed to the position of farms manager for the Highland Investment Company in 2002, where he manages 400 hectares over five farms with two 55-hectare arable units that are let on farm business tenancies. The company is one of the leading fruit packing houses in the country and is still a major grower, with 97ha of apples, 16ha of pears, 80ha of blackcurrants and 35ha of plums and cherries.
Highland Court was the first to plant a commercial crop of apricots in the UK and remains one of the country’s bigger growers.
“After experimenting with apricots for five years when we trialled different ways of growing and pruning, we began with 1,500 trees,” Mr Foad explains. “A couple of years later a further 1,000 trees were planted, bringing the total area to 3.5ha. At £8 each, the element of risk was high and the pressure was on to make the project work.”
Thanks to his hard work, research and expertise, demand for home-grown apricots is increasing. Apricots grown from the Highland Investment Company are sold through the multiples (85%), wholesale (10%) and to farm shops and jam makers (5%).
“Although some retailers are excited about UK-grown fruit, there’s a need to push home-grown produce ahead of imported,” Mr Foad says. “The fruit industry is increasingly marginal and times are tougher than ever before due to prices that are not always economic combined with changing consumer preferences.”
Under Mr Foad’s guidance, the Highland Investment Company was one of the first farm businesses to enter Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), and Mr Foad remains committed to farming in an environmentally friendly way. “It’s possible to run stewardship schemes that encourage biodiversity alongside commercially viable farm businesses,” he says, highlighting the need to more widely
promote the fact that science has enabled agriculture to farm in a way that is sympathetic with the environment.
“Farmers and growers maximise on research and development from the scientific community,” Mr Foad says. “The relationship is strong, but we need to tell the public this is the case and show UK agriculture and horticulture in the good light it deserves to be.”
For more information visit www.highland-investment.co.uk
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