Farmers in big milk debate

An opportunity to get the first-hand facts of the struggle by dairy farmers to survive the severe price depression takes place on April 17. The Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes is holding the farmgate milk prices debate at Yaxham village hall between 1pm-3pm.

An opportunity to get the first-hand facts of the struggle by dairy farmers to survive the severe price depression takes place on April 17. The Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes is holding the farmgate milk prices debate at Yaxham village hall between 1pm-3pm. The international and public affairs committee has invited several dairy farmers to put their case. There is an optional ploughman's lunch, between noon and 1pm, with glass of wine, for £2.50. It must be ordered in advance. Hopefully, the butter will be home-produced and how about a glass of milk instead of wine? On a more serious note, all are welcome. Contact county office on 01603 624580 or e-mail FedSec@norfolkwi.org.uk

Hardy enthusiasts, who braved the rain, were greeted by equally cheerful hosts, Anthea Foster and daughter Venetia at the first snowdrop walk at Lexham Hall, near Litcham, last Sunday. One couple came from Diss after reading about two walks through the woods and estate in this column. A total of 197 visitors supported the event, which was in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. It was better than a previous year, said Mrs Foster, a national council member of the charity, when just 68 attended. The lunch, provided by volunteers for All Saints', Litcham, featured four soups including a delicious curried parsnip. Visitors are welcome between 11am and 4pm tomorrow in aid of the Olive Tree Project. Entry £3.50, children free. Plants for sale and refreshments.

Ethanol from sugar beet will be the theme of a briefing for members of the Holt Farm Machinery Club on Thursday (7.30pm) by Robin Limb, of British Sugar, at Pinewood Park, Upper Sheringham. No doubt, the centre's chairman, farmer Niven Last, of Saxthorpe, who joined a 41-strong party to Germany last week, may share some of his thoughts on the joys of travelling by Ryan Air. The flight from Stansted, which was due to leave at 12.20pm, was cancelled without warning, apology, explanation or any offer of compensation. Finally, the flight took off with just a couple of empty seats just before 4pm. As one wit on the trip said: “easyJet fly cheap and cheerful but Ryanair is just

cheap and nasty”. Hard to disagree,


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given their complete indifference.

It might appear that a popular local pub in north Norfolk might have fallen foul of official movement restrictions. For the past 30 years - almost to the month - the pub at Edgefield, near Holt, has been known as The Three Pigs. Now, its new sign for The Pigs just displays two fine porkers. So, have the new owners completed all the necessary paperwork to move “one” of the three pigs to a new home? No doubt, officials at Defra will be checking with suitable enthusiasm. Actually, there is an explanation for the change of name. For almost two centuries until April 1977, when it was sold by Watneys, it was called the Bacon Arms although always known as “The Pigs” by locals.

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Members of Gillingham Stockman's Club have agreed to hold their summer judging events on a Sunday rather than a Saturday in an effort to encourage more participation from younger enthusiasts. The president, David Catchpole, welcomed members to the annual meeting at the Swan, Loddon, while chairman Ian Stiff highlighted another successful year. Ian Wilkin was elected chairman with Stephen Lutkin vice-chairman. Nick Dain, a long-time supporter of stock judging, was thanked for an informative talk. On Thursday, March 8 (7.45pm) Steve Tricky will be talking on his veterinary experiences abroad. All are welcome to attend, said secretary and treasurer Betty Catchpole who can be contacted on 01508 480288.

Butchers and livestock farmers are invited to a free meat awareness session on pork at Otley College, near Ipswich, on Wednesday, February 28. The detailed briefing starts at 9.30am and includes a practical butchery demonstration and a light pork lunch, before a final presentation and display of the various products. It ends at 3.30pm. To book a place, contact Diane Northrop on 0870 242 1394.

Stalham Farmers' Club, which holds its 165th annual meeting on Wednesday at the Sutton Staithe Hotel, near Stalham, has invited Lady Roberts, to address members at 7.30pm. Georgina Roberts, vice-chairman of Norfolk branch of the Country Land and Business Association, runs the forestry department on the family's estate at Cockley Cley, near Swaffham. She is also heavily involved with the Swaffham and Litcham Home Hospice.

Senior members of Holt and District Farmers' Club rejected a proposed early start on their annual summer jaunt to Germany in June. Organiser and farmer William Youngs asked for a show of support for a 6.30am visit to a huge flower market on the second morning of their four-day trip. When it was pointed out that members had to be up at 4am to get to Stansted for an early start the day before, only two members of the party were keen on the early morning trip. The secretary and estate agent Tim Nicholson and treasurer and county councillor Tony Williams were the only two to vote for the early morning start, while others were keener to remain abed.

Continuing their efforts to offer local produce to their customers, Asda is trialling Fenland Maris Piper through its Bedford depot for another three weeks. Produced for Asda by Fenmarc Produce, Fenland Maris Piper are grown by farmer Phil Rayns on the peat soils. These potatoes are stored in ambient temperatures rather than chilled. This process means that the crop appears dull but also means that the starch in the potato does

not turn to sugar, so the potato appears brilliantly light

when fried and the taste is tremendous.

A new 400-cow dairy unit costing £1.7m is to be built at Harper

Adams University College in Shropshire, said farm manager

Scott Kirby. He arrived seven years ago at the college, which has 2,200 students, to halt the cycle of losses at the 340ha mainly arable enterprise. He told members of Holt Farmers that the decision was made to replace the 1950s dairy building thanks to a £750,000 grant from the Further Education Funding

Council. There was also a 60-head beef unit and 95,000 laying hens, including 15,000 birds on a free range system. It was planned

to extend this side of the

enterprise.

A tour of John Deere's European Parts Distribution Centre in the heart of Germany was fascinating. One member of the 41-strong party, Richard English, pictured, of the Beeston depot of Ben Burgess & Co, was able to find a package heading back to England. Given that the daily service virtually guarantees delivery of parts by 8am, he would be returning home almost as quickly. Incidentally, the Norwich branch is organising a machinery trade exhibition at the Norfolk showground on Tuesday, 2pm to 8pm. Any farmer, contractor of grounds care specialist can quailify for two NRoSo training points by visiting the stand. There is also a hog roast as a further incentive for visitors.

One of the more striking sights at the site of John Deere's 100-acre European Parts Distribution Centre at Bruchsal, Germany, was a tractor of surprising hue. Several of the sharper-eyed members of the party of Norfolk and Suffolk farmers, who were guests of agricultural engineers Ben Burgess & Co and Evergreen Tractors, spotted a small Fendt tractor near the central cab factory. Our host, Rob Stanton, from Bury St Edmunds, explained that the company's European training centre for sales staff is also based at the complex. And, the best way to demonstrate the superior qualities of the green and yellow John Deere tractors is to compare the opposition machines, he said.

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