7th MAY 2020 - Page 39



FARMFAMILY
FARMWEEK
FEBRUARY 07 2019
39
TAKING A LOOK BACK INTO THE FARMWEEK
ARCHIVES FROM THIS WEEK 50 YEARS AGO
Willy John By Dobson
FEBRUARY 04, 1969
“I say this b..... stupid time is all part of the
government’s plan to always keep us in the dark.”
Market site is probed
A
REPRESENTATIVE meeting
of the country’s fruit and
vegetable growers has come out
– practically unanimously – in favour
of a private market being established
at the Bog Meadows on the site
offered by Belfast Corporation.
The decision was taken after a
discussion lasting several hours at
UFU headquarters last week.
About 25 growers attended and Mr
Sam Hamilton of the vegetable section
of the union’s Horticultural Council
was in the chair with Mr Frank Espley,
of the UFU, as secretary.
The present market site is to
be taken over for building by the
Corporation.
Talking to FarmWeek after last
week’s meeting, Mr Espley said that
the growers confirmed their previous
rejection of the Druncrue Street site
before going into “the highly complex”
question of the Bog Meadows’ offer.
Said Mr Espley: “The Corporation
had suggested Druncrue Street where
some development has taken place
as an alternative site and on similar
conditions to the existing markets
which are scheduled for closure by
1971 at the earliest and 1974 by the
latest.
“Following the rejection of this site
the Corporation came up with a nine12 acre ‘stand’ in the Bog Meadows but
which they wish to have developed
privately at the expense of those using
the markets – the wholesalers and
producers.”
Development costs – filling,
concreting and erection of sheds –
have been estimated at somewhere in
the region of £70,000 per acre.
“We considered the various aspects
of the offer as fully as possible,”
Mr Espley added, “and the growers
overwhelmingly favoured the idea of
private development but with a lot of
safeguards written in.”
The growers considered that the
project should be undertaken by
a private marketing company of
wholesalers or merchants without any
direct charge to them (the growers) for
the initial outlay.
“Any direct assessment seemed
impossible,” Mr Espley claimed,
“because of the seasonal use only
which growers make of market
facilities.
“The number of producers varies
from 100 to 50 per week while
specialised growers appear during
certain weeks or months. In essence
the growers favoured a toll system
involving them in charges when they
were actually using the markets.”
Security of tenure with fixed toll
charges were among the main points
demanded to eliminate any threat of
a monopoly by those putting up the
original development costs.
It was pointed out that a
Westminster marketing grant of
around 30 per cent – in the case of the
Bog Meadows’ site this would amount
to approximately £250,000 – is also
available.
It is a condition of this grant that
private markets must be public places.
Consideration of this grant, which
would appear virtually certain to be
called on if the plan proceeds, allayed
the “monopoly” fears.
REVIEW – President is optimistic Union backs wage increase
T
I

F we don’t get a satisfactory
Review this year then I believe
we never will.”
This was stated by UFU
president, Mr Jimmy Jordan,
yesterday as he left for London
with other members of the union
negotiating team for the annual
Price Review talks.
Preliminary discussions will be
held with the other unions before
the first round of the official
talks gets under way tomorrow.
The results of the five weeks’
bargaining will be known on
March 12.
Emphasising that it would be a
critical review – “one that could
decide the destiny of agriculture
for years to come” – Mr Jordan
based his optimism on the British
Government’s acknowledgment
of the role which agriculture can
play in reducing imports of food.
Mr Jordan (pictured) declared:
“The £160m a year saving in
imports as mentioned by Mr
Hughes in his statement can be
achieved but only if farmers are
given the proper incentives.
“The sincerity of the British
Government is at stake and
unless we are treated favourably
farmers will be very reluctant
to believe such a promise in the
future.”
It will be the union’s case that
farmers must have the capital
to finance further expansion
which can only be achieved by
an improvement in the level of
income.
The farm leaders will press for
the creation and maintenance
of
confidence,
particularly
by preventing the collapse of
markets through badly phased
imports.
In addition to Mr Jordan the
other members of the UFU
team are Mr Tom Orr, deputy
president; Mr William Hamill,
junior deputy president; Mr R B
Martin, a former president; and
Mr A E Swain. Mr W H Gilliland,
UFU general secretary, will also
take part.
At a Press conference following
Friday’s meeting of the UFU
Executive Committee Mr Jordan
said that inter-union discussions
had already taken place in
preparation for the London talks.
“We have had the benefit also
of discussions with various
Northern Ireland organisations,”
the president stated, “and we are
grateful for the information and
assistance given in preparing our
case.”
The Price Review has also been
a major topic at recent meetings of
the various UFU sub-committees.
HE Ulster Farmer’s Union has given
its blessing to the proposed 17s
per week increase in the minimum
wages of farm workers.
When the Northern Ireland Agricultural
Wages Board meets today the union
representatives will negotiate up to a 17s
maximum in line with the ruling of the
Agricultural Wages Board of England and
Wales in November last.
The Prices and Incomes Board backed
the pay increase of 17s. 360,000 farm
workers are involved but said it could not
recommend its implementation because
of the strict rules of the Government’s
incomes policy.
The problem facing the PIB was that
only 3½ per cent could be allowed under
Government policy whereas the 17s
increase represented a seven per cent
rise.
However the Government last week
took the unusual, if not unique, step
of approving a wage increase which it
officially admitted was in excess of what
should be allowed under its incomes
policy.
This followed the Prices and Incomes
Board report which said that although
360,000 farmworkers should not be
allowed a 7 per cent rise if the policy
were strictly interpreted, the Government
should consider treating them as a special
case.
Within an hour of the report being
published Mrs Barbara Castle, Secretary
of State for Employment and Productivity,
told the British Commons she did not
intend to delay implementation of the
increase which the Agricultural Wages
Board said should be paid.
The PIB found that although the
farmworkers were easily the lowest paid
group of workers in the country and
although productivity in the industry
has risen by some six per cent annually
for the past few years, the Government’s
policy could not allow the full increase.
But it felt the Government should, as it
has done, consider treating the industry
as a special case and allow the money to
be paid.
This is the first time that the Government
has officially recognised that there have
to be some exceptions to its incomes
policy.
In the case of the farm workers, there
was general agreement that they were in
a special position.
It has been estimated that an increase
of 17s would cause the wage bill to
Northern Ireland farmers to rise by over
£1m assuming no workers were made
redundant.
Cheaper barley could have significant benefits

ABOVE: Mr Gerry Nickell (AFM personnel manager),
Mr Peter Weston (AFM mill manager) and Mr John
Bownass (Silcocks Advisory Staff).
I
F ... home-grown barley from Great Britain
could be bought and landed in Ulster at a
price more in line with the price at which
it is available to compounders across the
water, this would have significant benefits for
the Northern Ireland livestock farmers and in
particular our Ulster pig industry.”
This was stated by Mr J McGregor Black,
president of the Northern Ireland Grain
Trade Association Ltd, when he spoke at the
Association’s sixth annual dinner in Belfast
last Wednesday evening.
“It is disappointing to learn that we may
have to live with this situation for some time,”
said Mr Black. “We had hoped that some
definite progress was being made towards
this end.”
Referring to feeding costs, Mr Black recalled
that in the year 1954-55 – when the farmers’
annual Price Review started – feedingstuffs
represented 31.2 per cent of total farm costs.
“Thirteen years later in 1967-68 this
feedingstuffs cost ingredient had not
increased – it then stood at 29.6 per cent – a
drop, in fact, of half per cent of the total cost.
This was in spite of the fact that feedingstuffs
had increased in usage by almost 50 per cent
in the same period.”
Mr Black, who was addressing more than
200 members and guests, said that feed
represented the major ingredient in the total
but its share of farm costs had not risen in
proportion to that of several other costs
throughout the last 13 years.
“In fact the greatest increase in these farm
costs,” said Mr Black, “has been in rent and
interest – these have risen from 6.9 per cent
to 10.6 per cent – an increase of 3.7 per cent
of the total.”
The cost of finance today was one of the
problems of all industry and it was no less
to the feed industry which traditionally had
played an important part in financing the
British livestock farmer.
“This raises the question of availability of
capital generally in British agriculture,” he
pointed out.
“Capital investment in agriculture is simply
not growing at anything like the rate in the
rest of our economy. Investment in fixed
assets and improvements in farming has
increased at only half the rate of increase
in our economy as a whole over the last 10
years.”

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