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"Information - Insight - Interactivity"
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Edited by Roy McCallum
June 20, 2000
Digest # 003
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Hello Readers
We are further progressing the planned changes to our site at

We have had a pleasing response to the offer to receive our occasional newsletter keeping you informed of what is happening on the site and on any other matters that take our attention

The Export Prices page now includes a graphing function for selectable single items from last November to the latest week. Agrifax supplies these figures every week and we are expecting to be able to show you their update weekly on each Saturday. We have included a wide range of data items in the list and future developments should include the facility to graph multiple relationships from the data.

A new page is being added for "Farmer Articles" to be published as they are received. This is a place for farmers to present their ideas, problems and solutions in the form of an article.

This will be the first newsletter distributed directly from our own server. Peter and Rhys have been working hard creating all the background services required to support the site as you view it. It is remarkable how a simple concept grows into a complex structure over a period of a few weeks.

The discussion forum is still some weeks away so in the meantime let us know by email at of things that interest you or ideas you have that may improve the usefulness of the site to you.

The daily number of daily visitors to the site continues to grow and we are pleased with the international spread of our visitors.

Enjoy the site
The Farmnet Fellows

1. From the editor
2. NZ 'In Denial' over Farming
3. UK Supermarket Iceland Buys World's Organic Crop
1. From the Editor

It has been another busy month learning how to manage the daily operation of the site and adjusting to the demands of daily deadlines.Many new features for the site are yet to be implemented but we a progressing slowly.

I am inviting readers to submit articles on ideas or issues that present their point of view on a problem and/or a solution.

I cannot guarantee to publish all copy received for obvious reasons but expect to receive articles covering a wide range of subjects that are relevant to farming and the production and marketing of farm products. We will publish under a pseudonym if requested but request your name and address to accompany the article.

It is interesting identifying the early warnings of change present in the wide-ranging news items available relevant to farm production and prices. In selecting news items I am aware that some items may appear remote from the daily farm issues of feeding and tending stock.
The current major general business concerns for all farmers seem to centre on exchange rates, interest rates, quotas, tariffs and entry barriers. On farm decisions seem to be being influenced by political kite flying on matters such as GM foods, "organic" production and animal welfare. All items that is difficult to define in terms of their boundaries and future influence on farming profitability.

In selecting news I walk a fine line between my practical values as a farmer and those of the advocates for change.It is a new experience!

Have you a view?

Roy McCallum email contact:

2. NZ 'In Denial' over Farming

HAMILTON -- Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys says New Zealanders are in "deep denial" about the importance farming plays in the national economy.

"The denial is dangerous, because it undermines what will always be crucial to our national survival," he said yesterday.

Sir Michael said those affected were New Zealand urbanites "who are the very people who need to be reminded of New Zealand's underlying economic reality".

He was opening the national agricultural field days at Mystery Creek and said the expo -- the third largest agricultural event in the world -- would help remind people of the economic importance of agriculture.

Agricultures importance to every modern economy, both in terms of production bringing economic benefit to rural communities and providing food for household welfare in urban communities is a well recognised fundamental transaction.

Is it the media who have trivialized and disparaged the farming process because they find it too difficult to describe the nuances of the food production system?

Should we worry? Should they worry? Yes we all should! There are too many urbanites who see fully stocked supermarket shelves as being nothing to do with the day to day operation of the farming industry.
3.UK Supermarket Iceland Buys World's Organic Crop

Supermarket chain Iceland was today due to announce plans to switch complete food ranges to organic - at no extra cost to the customer.

The retailer has bought up to nearly 40% of the world's organic vegetable crop to meet a growing demand among supermarket shoppers and this chain, which was the first to ban genetically modified ingredients from its own brands, is to pledge that there will be no extra cost to the consumer.

The company is also injecting £1 million into the National Trust, the UK's biggest landowner, for a project to promote environmentally friendly farming. But the firm will warn shareholders that the organic move is being made at a price, and will result in an £8 million drop in profits by December 2000.

Iceland's managing director, Russell Ford, told BBC radio that the investment was prompted by a survey suggesting three out of four customers would prefer to buy organic goods if they were cheaper than current prices.

The new scheme will set organic products at the same price as average supermarket own-label products. Frozen organic vegetables will be introduced first.

"At the moment Britain has minimal organic production due to lack of Government investment in the organic industry in its formative years," said Malcolm Walker, chairman of Iceland. "We hope that our investment will help change this."

Iceland's £1m investment will support the National Trust's farming programme, which works with tenant farmers to develop environmentally responsible practices.

At present, only 3% of UK agricultural land is organic and all the supermarkets are forced to rely on imports to meet the demand.

Sainsbury's is reported to have bought sites on Caribbean islands to guarantee its organic supplies.

But with 40% of the organic crop sown up, experts say Iceland's investment could act spur on the rest of the food industry, increase competition and cut prices further.

Previous initiatives by the chain, which has 760 stores in the UK, such as the GM food ban were widely welcomed by environmental campaigners like Friends of the Earth.

Its introduction of a range of environmentally friendly fridges and freezers led to its products being the only ones to gain an endorsement by Greenpeace.

The new scheme may also put pressure on the government to give more financial help to would-be organic food producers.

Is there a warning here for would be converters to organic production?

A major supermarket chain willing to price organics at the same price as conventionally produced products.

Will their competition match there pricing strategy? Who will pay? In the final count the producer! Producers will receive less at the farm gate for their lower volume organic production.

Lower cost for on farm organic production will be offset by production costs that are fixed the same for either organic or conventional products. Processing, storage, packaging, freight and retailing costs must be met no matter what the qualities of the product are.

Beware of Greens bearing false promises!
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