MF: One third of global production wasted annually– that’s a huge amount.
MB: Yes, it’s a very large figure. In developing countries, most waste happens in the earlier stages of the food supply chain, whereas in developed regions such as Europe, food is more likely to be wasted at the other end of the chain, when it lands in the hands of the processors, retailers and consumers. This leads to safe food going uneaten. It’s clearly an issue which must be addressed given escalating food demand and continuing poverty and hunger for many in developing countries. The issue is particularly topical at the moment considering that EXPO 2015’s theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ which has a heavy focus on food security, and therefore food waste.
MF: What is the EU’s strategy?
MB: In 2014, the European Commission put forward objectives for food waste reduction in the EU with the stated aim of reducing food waste by at least 30% by 2025. However, in its 2015 work programme, the Commission announced that it would withdraw this legislative proposal in favour of a new, more ambitious one to promote circular economy. This is the idea of reusing and recycling existing materials and products, aiming to ‘close the loop’ in order to avoid loss and waste. The European Commission has launched a public consultation on ‘Circular Economy’ in a bid to promote its new strategy on the subject which it is planning for late 2015. The consultation is open to everyone, so anyone should feel free to have their say if they would like to contribute!
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Families and other members of the public who are looking for a fruit-growing enterprise to visit during this year’s Open Farm Sunday on 7 June should have no difficulty finding one in the traditional areas of Kent, Herefordshire or Somerset.
But what about Aberdeenshire…?
One of the UK’s most successful fruit producers is to be found at Castleton, close to the town of Fordoun, on the road between Dundee and Aberdeen. Farmed by the Mitchell family since 1992, Castleton Farm once supported a dairy herd, but its 710 acres are now dedicated to arable and fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries, to be specific.
The cool Scottish summers in this northerly location provide the ideal conditions for berry production, with a mid-May to early November growing/picking season. At its peak, up to 350 workers from Eastern Europe are employed, together with seasonal staff who are engaged all year round.
In 2009 Castleton Farm was awarded the accolade of “Soft Fruit Grower of the Year” and in 2010 a purpose-built packhouse and refrigeration unit were constructed to further increase its fruit capacity.
The bulk of the Mitchells’ £5 million-plus annual production goes to Marks & Spencer and Tesco, with local sales – including the modern Castleton Farm shop outlet – accounting for 3 per cent of the total.
All produce bound for the supermarket sector is marketed and sold by Berrygardens, a growers’ co-operative consisting of 63 producers – 10 of which are in Scotland and account for 23 per cent of the group’s total volume. Combined annual turnover is now well in excess of £200m.
Last year, Castleton Farm welcomed visitors from across the region during the Open Farm Sunday initiative. “It went really well,” Ross Mitchell recalls. “We had been encouraged to take part by Marks & Spencer, who are our biggest customers.
“The visitors experienced exactly what goes into growing their soft fruit. I think most of them had never realised just how much work was involved.”
In addition to Open Farm Sunday, Castleton last year acted as a host farm for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists conference, one of the main sponsors of which was Massey Ferguson.
“Apart from running a MF 7620 ourselves as the farm’s main workhorse tractor, Massey Ferguson is lending us another tractor for the purposes of this year’s Open Farm Sunday”, says Ross.
“I think it’s very important that the public – our customers – see that farmers, suppliers and manufacturers work together as one joined-up industry. Open Farm Sunday represents a good opportunity for us to help get that message across.”
Lindsay Haddon, Advertising & Sales Manager at Massey Ferguson, couldn’t agree more. “We’re delighted to be supporting such a great initiative as Open Farm Sunday,” she says.
“Like Ross and his family, we are very keen to encourage the public – our ultimate customers – to find out how their food is produced. As a responsible manufacturer, we will back our farmers in any way we can to get these important messages across.”
Details of farms throughout the UK set to welcome visitors to this year’s Open Farm Sunday event on 7th June can be found at www.farmsunday.org.uk
Agricultural Dealers Carrs Billington, teamed up with Newton Rigg College to host Grassland North for the second occasion on 13th May 2015. An event created three years ago due to demand for a grassland focused exhibition in the North of England, brought together a wide range of suppliers to Sewborwens Farm at Penrith, Cumbria.
Wanting to provide more than just a static display, Grassland North has become an educational and informative day out for farmers in the region. It was also the first time in the UK that bales were wrapped in pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness and Breakthrough Cancer. The pink bale wrap has been produced by Volac and is in high demand thanks to the display on the day.
Support for the event was best demonstrated by the machinery suppliers to Carrs Billington, who had over six million pounds worth of the most advanced equipment functioning. Liz Philip, Executive Principle of Askham Bryan, the group behind Newton Rigg College, said ‘it was a superb demonstration of modern commercial agriculture for both student and industry alike, and it was a pleasure to work with Carrs Billington in putting on such an event’.
Local farmers, contractors and enthusiasts, along with those from as far afield as Nottingham and Scotland, visited on the day to make the most of the May sunshine and were able to enjoy local ice-cream and refreshments, take tours around the state of the art £2.4 million dairy unit, and to see a vast range of machinery from Massey Ferguson and Fendt tractors, Krone and Kuhn grassland equipment, slurry and muck applicators, ATV’s, trailers and so much more. An estimated 3,500 people attended the event. Rae Tomlinson, Managing Director of Carrs Billington said ‘Carrs Billington were delighted to stage this event for the second time, fortunately we were blessed with good weather and the event was clearly an enjoyable, informative success and I would like to thank Newton Rigg and our suppliers, Carrs personnel and most of all our customers without whom it would not have been the success it clearly was.
A Massey Ferguson tractor refurbished by students attending the AGCO agricultural engineering apprenticeship scheme at the UK’s Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire is set for work in the village of Tunguli, Morogoro in Tanzania.
The tractor gift project is being spearheaded by the Diocese of Worcester which has a friendship link with the Diocese of Morogoro.. Prior to being shipped to Tanzania, the MF 265 tractor was blessed at a special ceremony at Moreton Morrell College performed by The Right Reverend Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester. Also in attendance at the ceremony was Steve Wood, Chairman of the College Board of Governors.
“The fully-reconditioned tractor will make an enormous difference to the lives of people in Tunguli,” said Bishop John. “We would like to thank AGCO, its student apprentices and the College for their help with this great project.”
AGCO, Massey Ferguson’s parent company, has been running its Dealer apprenticeship training scheme in partnership with Moreton Morrell College since 1999. Over the last 18 months, AGCO student apprentices have been rebuilding the MF 265 as part of their course work, transforming the 30-year-old model into a good-as-new tractor, ready for use.
“We were delighted to donate the major parts for the refurbishment and for our apprentices to test out their skills and knowledge in overhauling the tractor for this very worthy cause,” comments Tony Linfield, AGCO Training Development Manager.
The AGCO Apprentice Scheme is open to young agricultural engineers aiming to progress into positions within AGCO farm machinery Dealerships across the UK. Course lengths range from 15 months to two years with 12-24 weeks’ block release at Moreton Morrell College. On successfully completing the courses, students receive Work-Based Diplomas in Land Based Service Engineering.
Nick Green, Operations Director of HIGHWOOD in Dorchester, England, was very pleased to hand over the keys to five Massey Ferguson 7600 series to prominent Dorset contractor Philip Trim of Philip Trim Contractors, Bere Regis.
These tractors are in addition to his current fleet of MF tractors and have replaced an MF 6490 and an MF 8650 to bring him up to date with the latest Massey Ferguson product. This fleet purchase includes two MF 7626s, two 7620s and an MF 7618. Philip has tried other makes, but has a proven faith in MF benefiting from their class leading fuel economy, output, power management, comfort and reliability.
Mr Trim’s extensive fleet of MF tractors is a common sight throughout Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire. Philip celebrated his 25yr anniversary in 2012 and has grown his business from a David Brown 1212 to the size and range of field and road operations that he has now. With shrewd investment in reliable and up to date equipment together with a close working relationship with a loyal customer base, has ensured he has progressed to the efficient and professional company that he has.
Philip Trim said “I have to be comfortable that the product I am buying and the dealer I buy it from is 100%. I cannot afford downtime within my operations and the reliability I receive from the tractors is crucial. Highwood’s Aftersales team do not let me down and was a main consideration in making my decision.” He continues, “The tractors are extremely reliable despite being worked very hard and the massive saving on fuel is important when running a large fleet.”
Highwood has long supported Philip with his MF fleet to keep each tractor at its maximum potential and has shown his faith in the backup of these machines by ordering such a number.
All his tractors benefit from the protection of Massey Ferguson’s excellent MANAGER Extended Warranty program and although little used, is essential to ensure minimum downtime and to give fixed costs with no unexpected bills.
Nick Green, Highwood Operations Director said “We are delighted to continue to supply Philip Trim with Massey Ferguson tractors; a relationship which started in 2006. The excellent range of MF tractor’s we have available coupled with the Highwood’s team dedication to offering a first class service has made it easy for Philip to pledge his business.”