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Matteo Bartolini President of CEJA looks back on the Council’s achievements in 2014

MFVision_Beauvais_LaSalle_Press_Day_2014-7221_85781

Among the highlights of 2014 was the official launch of the CEJA-Massey Ferguson partnership. CEJA President, Matteo Bartolini (left) is pictured here with Richard Markwell, Massey Ferguson Vice-President and Managing Director Europe/Africa/Middle East at MF’s Vision of the Future event in Beauvais, France.

MF: Would you say that 2014 was a year of maintaining the momentum of CEJA’s work?

MB: 2014 has been a crucial year for CEJA. Following the achievements made in 2013 with the inclusion of a mandatory measure for young farmers in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it was essential that we ensured the implementation of this historic political agreement in an effective and concrete manner. In a similar vein, it was also important that we made use of the momentum that the CAP reform negotiations had given CEJA the previous year, and that we maintained an increasing amount of visibility and awareness of the age crisis in European farming. This was despite the retreat that agriculture, due to the end of CAP discussions, made from the central position it had been occupying in EU current affairs for the last two years. Progress has been  made on the policy front even beyond the remits of the CAP, including  putting the need to strengthen EU policy for young farmers at centre stage within the agricultural priorities of the Italian Presidency.

MF: What else was notable in 2014?

MB:  2014 witnessed the official launch of the CEJA-Massey Ferguson partnership. Among several joint events, we held a CEJA working group at the MF tractor plant in Beauvais, France. The event also included a tour of the tractor production facilities for a number of leading young farmers from across the EU. 2014 saw the end of an era as the previous European Commissioner for Agriculture, Dacian Cioloş, was replaced by Irishman Phil Hogan. In addition,  we saw an array of newly-elected MEPs take their seats on the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament. As well as this, CEJA welcomed a new Secretary General a year ago to assist what was then the newly-elected Board, with me at the helm as the new President. Despite all these changes, CEJA accomplished a number of achievements over the last 12 months and I am proud to say that the issue of young farmers was still high on the political agenda right through to the end of 2014.

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South Pole ‘Tractor Girl’ calls in to thank Massey Ferguson team in UK

Staff at Massey Ferguson in the UK gave a warm welcome to Manon Ossevoort who drove an MF 5610 tractor on the adventurous Antarctica2 mission to the South Pole.

Manon Ossevoort 'Tractor Girl' and Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver of the Antarctica2 Expedition visits Abbey Park

Manon Ossevoort ‘Tractor Girl’ and Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver of the Antarctica2 Expedition visits Abbey Park

The 38-year-old Dutch-born Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver, better known as ‘Tractor Girl’, visited Massey Ferguson’s offices at Abbey Park Stoneleigh in Warwickshire on 23 January. Manon captured the imagination of millions worldwide as she and her team battled across the vast icescape with the MF tractor on a gruelling 28-day, 5000 km round-trip from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole. On reaching its destination, the MF 5610 made history to become the first standard farm tractor equipped with tyres to reach the Geographic South Pole overland.

Throughout the expedition, a Massey Ferguson team at Abbey Park was responsible for coordinating the expedition communications and relaying news and pictures of the epic journey to a global audience.

“It was a great pleasure to welcome Manon to the UK and hear yet more details of this extraordinary story,” said Declan Hayden, Vice President, Global Sales & Operations Planning. “It is truly an awe-inspiring feat, highlighting the strength and endurance of the MF tractor, as well demonstrating the fortitude and resilience of the crew.”

Manon commented: “By supplying the MF 5610 to Antarctica2, Massey Ferguson showed its belief in this incredibly ambitious mission and took up my challenge to take a tractor to the South Pole. I am thrilled to be here and back with the MF team who worked with me on planning the expedition over a period of three years. They never stopped believing that we could achieve our goal. I know the team at Abbey Park was eager to hear more of my story but I was equally fascinated to find out how they supported the expedition communications day-to-day.”

The Abbey Park Team welcome Manon Ossevoort and Simon Foster back to Abbey Park

The Abbey Park Team welcome Manon Ossevoort and Simon Foster back to Abbey Park

Manon was joined at Abbey Park by fellow team member, Antarctica2 cameraman Simon Foster. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “Taking pictures and video in the extreme cold was exceptionally challenging. We were able to take some great shots of the tractor on its voyage which were used widely by the world’s press and across social media.”

Paul Lay, Massey Ferguson Manager, Public Relations and Communications who led the Abbey Park-based communications team adds: “Antarctica2 was an amazing project for the team to manage. The technical challenges of conveying communications and developing news from Antarctica quickly to a global audience were immense. There are no geosynchronous communications satellites at the Earth’s Poles so digital communications are very slow and unreliable.   We overcame those and were delighted when, together with other world media, the BBC ran a four minute live news broadcast with Manon when her MF 5610 tractor reached the South Pole – a first.”

The Antarctica2 MF 5610 expedition tractor will be a highlight of Massey Ferguson’s stand at the upcoming SIMA Show in Paris 22-26 February 2015.

Home for Christmas! Triumphant Return to Base Camp for Antarctica2 Tractor Expedition

(15:20 hrs CET, 20 December 2014, Novo Runway, Antarctica): The Antarctica2 bid to drive an MF 5610 agricultural tractor on an ambitious 5000km round trip to the South Pole arrived safely back at Novo Runway on the Antarctic coast today.

In accomplishing the mission, the MF 5610 has become the first standard farm tractor equipped with tyres to reach the Geographic South Pole overland.

There were emotional celebrations for the Antarctica2 expedition team members when they arrived at the South Pole with their MF 5610 tractor on 9 December 2014.

There were emotional celebrations for the Antarctica2 expedition team members when they arrived at the South Pole with their MF 5610 tractor on 9 December 2014.

For ‘Tractor Girl’ and Lead Driver, 38-year-old Manon Ossevoort, her journey proved that, given belief and determination, dreams really do come true. Relying on the dependable power of the Massey Ferguson tractor and the expert support of her polar team, Manon’s 12-year dream to drive a tractor ‘to end of the world’ is now complete.

“I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I’m feeling now,” she said. “Elation at such a wonderful expedition, relief in getting back to Novo Runway successfully. I can’t wait to start telling the story and hopefully encouraging others to follow their dreams.”

The adventure in the hostile Antarctic environment made huge demands on the team and equipment.  A belief in the reliability of the tractor and the crew members to do their jobs was a touchstone of the expedition and enshrined in Antarctica2’s message  #BelieveInIt.  The difficult conditions – bitter cold, high altitude, solid ice, snowdrifts, thick freezing fog and exceptionally rough terrain – all took their toll. However, both humans and machine showed remarkable resilience in the face of adversity and rose to the challenge of this once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

With its relentless physical and mental pressures, the polar trek drew on all the team’s  experience, willpower and endurance to win through. In very short periods of time, emotions could roller-coaster from exhilaration, elation and excitement to frustration and disappointment.

For the Massey Ferguson tractor, the expedition was the ultimate test of strength and durability, exerting massive strain on the components and really challenging the integrity of its design. Such an environment, where even the simplest repair is made difficult by the freezing temperatures, called for a straightforward, dependable tractor. During the 28-day 5000 km journey, the MF 5610 required only a few running repairs and the engine clocked up an impressive 760 hours of operation, which is more than many farms would do in two years of normal work.

Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development said: “We send our warmest congratulations to Manon Ossevoort and the Antarctica2 crew on their magnificent achievement. They have shown extraordinary teamwork and fortitude on this epic trip.”

“In one of the most barren places on earth, we hope that the Antarctica2 expedition has served to highlight to a non-agricultural audience the way farmers are rising to the challenge of feeding the world. Modern farm equipment and appropriate technology can help make the most of the world’s cultivable land and create sustainable farm business for our long-term food security.”

The Antarctica2 MF 5610 expedition tractor will be a highlight of Massey Ferguson’s stand at the upcoming SIMA Show in Paris 22-26 February 2015.

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

#BELIEVEINIT

 

400 km to go! Can the Antarctica2 team be home in time for Christmas?

(Antarctica – 18th December 2014): The drive back from the South Pole is proving every bit as exciting and emotional for the Antarctica2 tractor expedition team as, hour by hour, they tick off the distance home. The latest news is that they have less than 400 km to go to Novo Runway on the Antarctic coast. The MF 5610 put in yet another fantastic record-breaking run of 384 km and is as strong as ever despite the incredibly punishing schedule.

Antarctica2: Still time to take more pictures for cameraman Simon Foster as the Antarctica2 tractor expedition gets closer to home.

Antarctica2: Still time to take more pictures for cameraman Simon Foster as the Antarctica2 tractor expedition gets closer to home.

Now high up in the mountains at an elevation of 3314 metres (10,872 ft),  the team members found themselves once again “gasping for breath” in the thin air. Thankfully, the weather has been clear with light blue skies but the temperature has dipped to minus 30 degrees C – dropping to around minus 37 with wind chill. As Expedition Lead Guide , Matty McNair said in her daily report: “It’s nippy out there.” Emotions are running high with the team as they all eager to get back home to their loved-ones in time for Christmas.

Everyone on the crew is pitching in with tractor driving shifts to ensure the MF 5610 is kept constantly on-the-move. There is no rest for the tractor. The drivers report that the cab is extremely warm and the seat very comfortable. The five-point seat belt helps them strap themselves down when driving over rough terrain. For in-cab entertainment, team members are passing the time in various different ways listening to music, podcasts and audio books. Manon Ossevoort, Lead Driver is  listening to French lessons. Favourite sounds in the cab range from U2, Louise Attaque, Faithless, Trio, Muse, Endochine, Black Keys and Icelandic Music.

Ending her report from the ice, Matty McNair said: “Emotions are high. Will we make it back to Novo Runway to catch the (last) flight out? Will we be home at Christmas? We have just under 400 km to do in about 36 hours.” Nail-biting stuff!

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

#BELIEVEINIT

Handling the lot! How one farmer can’t do without his most precious asset

Richard Albutt and his family run a 500-acre mixed stock unit at Postlip Hall Farm, Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK. In addition to 300 store cattle, there are 1500 breeding ewes, 400 ewe lambs and 1000 store lambs. Maize, fodder beet and barley are grown for the farm’s own use.

telehandler

Clearly, a telehandler is a ‘must have’ piece of machinery for such an enterprise. Two years ago Richard decided to invest in a new MF 9306, trading in his older MF model.

“We quickly found substantial improvements in almost every department, most noticeably in the amount of power available,” Richard reports. “Also, we’ve got some pretty tight working areas here, and, being the smallest model in the current Massey Ferguson range, the MF 9306 gives us very good manoeuvrability, together with brilliant capacity and good reliability. In short, it handles everything.”

When all the cattle are in, and with the ewes to follow, the crucial task of delivering feed means the MF 9306 is a very busy machine over the winter, when loading the Keenan feeder and clearing muck out of the sheds represent the main tasks.

Richard is also very pleased with the quality of service he receives from his local Massey Ferguson dealership, JJ Farms, at nearby Gretton, which he describes as “excellent.” Reliable back-up Is high on his list of requirements and he believes he gets this.

“Unlike some other machinery manufacturers, that appear to be moving towards dealing direct with the customer nowadays, Massey Ferguson’s network of dealers is becoming even more highly-valued,” Richard observes. “I like to know that in the event of a problem arising, I can go to ours 24/7.

The MF 9306 is the most-used machine at Postlip Hall, running up an average of 1300 hours a year. “Out of all the machines here, it would be the last to go!” Richard comments.

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