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Rural World Newsletter April 2008

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Welcome to the Rural World Newsletter.  Every month, we take a closer look at some of our members and share their latest news and experiences with you.  Each and every one of the businesses showcased here are based in the UK and are classed as a rural business.  They may provide products and services for the agricultural and rural industries or help to encourage visitors to the countryside as part of the rural tourism industry. 

Like many livestock farmers, we are busy lambing at the moment and so are a little obsessed with sheep.  If you want to read more about lambing, please go to our Weblog on the website.  I am trying to get a video of a lamb being born which I will put on the site once it is available but I have to say, our ewe's seem very camera shy!  Watch this space for further progress reports!

If you are a member of Rural World and would like to see your business showcased here, please do let us know.  If you would like to know more about Rural World or register your business with us for just £15 for three months, click here.

 In this months newsletter:-

Are Farm House B&B's eggs free from legislation?
Natural Pest Control wins coverted award

Food Policy for Scotland Conference
Find the real Shaun Competition

Marketing - Common Issues, Common Sense Cures
And Finally.....

Are Farm House B&B's eggs free from legislation?

Many people go to farms for Bed and Breakfast. Some go because they like to be in the countryside. Others go for the service and facilities they are offered. Several providers complained to me recently that they could not use eggs from their own hens for their guests. This seemed silly to me as it was an oversight when the rules were being drafted. If you keep a few hens you can sell the eggs at your gate and even around the locality. But you could not use them for guests as caterers must use stamped grade A eggs.

This meant that a small producer must register as a packing station and stamp each egg before breaking it into the pan for their clients’ breakfast. So I argued strongly with both DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency and managed to get some leeway for those who want to use eggs from their own hens for guests. The official letter from the Agency is signed by Stephen Pugh. I quote:

The Food Hygiene Regulations covering the sale of fresh shell eggs require that all eggs used by catering establishments should be properly boxed and labelled “Grade A”. For Bed and Breakfast on small farms, many of which have a few hens, this could be taken to mean that they are not permitted to use their own eggs in meals for their guests despite being allowed to sell these eggs from the farm gate direct to the consumer. This seems to be contrary to the spirit of the EC food legislation, which repeatedly encourages traditional methods and practices and allows a derogation for farm gate sales.

However, there is some scope for interpretation in the regulations. We have agreed that, if the B+B is small (eg 3 rooms or fewer) and they are producing their own eggs, then the EHOs should not be unduly concerned that the B+B is using its own eggs in meals for its clients.

However, there are some caveats that are attached to this interpretation to make sure that food safety is adequately safeguarded.

(1) The B+B should inform individual customers that the eggs are from their own hens and not class A.

(2) Advice should be offered stating that because the eggs are not class A they might like them properly cooked, particularly if they are in a vulnerable group.

It remains the case that if eggs are purchased from any other sources, including neighbours, then the eggs would have to be graded and stamped as class A before they can be used.

I hope this is useful. I have copied this letter to the Egg Marketing Inspectorate to reinforce the argument that was made earlier in the year.

Yours sincerely.

You will appreciate that this is the official interpretation of the legislation. It may not be held up in Court, although I suspect any Magistrate would be unwise to contradict the Agency.

Food Solutions works on behalf of its members to ensure that food regulations are practical for small business and that they are properly applied.

Food Solutions PublishingFor detailed information on food regulation, the Food Solutions Guide is a useful, clear and comprehensive Book. The guide can be purchased at a discount by members from www.food-solutions.org

Bob Salmon

Natural Pest Control Wins Coveted Award

Earth Day 2008

For the third consecutive year Somerset farmer and owner of Verm-X, Philip Ghazala, has won a Green Apple Award for environmental best practice.

Verm-X is world famous for its range of natural parasite control that provides pet owners and smallholders with a more natural way of combating internal parasites.

With a product range that caters for both agricultural and domestic animals, Verm-X is delighted to be awarded receive the Silver Award.

Said Philip Ghazala of Verm-X: “We are extremely proud to be recognised three times in four years (2004, 2006 and again in 2007) by the Green Apple Organisation and to win an award in its Farming and Agricultural sector.

“It is a great honour to be recognised in this way by the British Government and it underlines what we stand for and that Verm-X has a serious place in the management of animal welfare.”

The Green Apple Environment Awards was set up 13 years ago to recognise, reward and promote companies and products that adopt an eco-friendly
approach to their business and 'set environmental standards for others to follow'.

Verm-X joins international winners such as Jaguar, Toyota, County Councils and global industries.

The judges rewarded Verm-X for its successfully researched and manufactured range of effective natural parasite control formulations covering both agricultural and domestic animals.

Picture Caption: From left to right, Nic Wigley, Philip Ghazala, Pam Roffe-Silvester and Graham Broome of Verm-X

 For further information please contact Ellie Gledhill at TSM on (01724) 784600. www.verm-x.com


Food Policy for Scotland Conference

Creating a national strategy for local, sustainable food

Chaired by Pennie Taylor, Broadcaster and Journalist

Wednesday 16 April, Edinburgh


Keynote speakers:

Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, The Scottish Government
Andrew Fairlie, Chef and Restaurateur
Jim McLaren, President, NFU Scotland
Pam Rodway, Food for Life Scotland Manager, Soil Association Scotland

“Scotland produces some of the finest food in the world but we need to tap into the full potential of this great resource for the benefit of everyone. We want to make sure we choose the right ingredients to make the most of Scotland's food.”  Richard Lochhead MSP, Speaking at the launch of Scotland’s National Food Discussion, January 2008

The Cabinet Secretary will give the keynote address at this conference, exploring the issues related to creating the first cross-cutting policy on food to be developed in the UK. He will speak about the processes involved, why a broad approach is required, the importance of collecting as many views as possible and the implications a food policy will have throughout the food industry, the public sector and beyond.

By attending this conference you will:-

    * Explore the options and the obstacles to producing a sustainable food policy for Scotland.
    * Learn about approaches to food policy and procurement issues in other countries and regions.
    * Hear from experts on local, sustainable food and question representatives from key organisations.
    * Hear good practice examples of local food initiatives and other food projects as well as how they can be replicated.
    * Contribute your views to the national di
scussion on the future of food in Scotland.

Full details including agenda and delegate fees can be found at http://conferences.holyrood.com/content/view/406/

You can book now at http://conferences.holyrood.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=408&Itemid=0

If you have any questions, please email foodpolicy@holyrood.com or call 0131 272 2136

We look forward to seeing you at this timely and important event.

Holyrood

Find the real Shaun Competition

The search is on to find the real Shaun the Sheep

The Year of Food and Farming aims to get more children finding out first-hand about food, farming and the countryside. As an added incentive to get out and about this spring, the Year has teamed up with Aardman to get children searching to find the real Shaun the Sheep.

If you have a 5–12 year old, why not head out into the countryside with your camera and have fun trying to find Shaun. When you find a look-a-like, simply take a photograph and enter it into the Find the Real Shaun competition at www.yearoffoodandfarming.org.uk. For the best Shaun the Sheep look-a-like, there is a chance to win an exclusive, framed still from the Shaun the Sheep series signed by the Director, and a free family ticket to visit a national farm attraction.

For all the details visit www.yearoffoodandfarming.org.uk
.

Marketing -  Common Issues, Common Sense Cures

The fundamental aim of any business is to create and keep customers.  The longer we can retain them (and get them to increase their purchases with us over time) the more profitable our business will be.  I can go into lots of detail about the whys and wherefores of this but it is basically common sense.  After all, we are all customers ourselves and if we like a supplier we stick with them, trust their products and so try new ones.  We are also less price sensitive and most importantly we tell our friends about them in positive terms and so create new customers for the supplier.

Our marketing efforts in general should create the environment to help us sell – common sense again – but do they really achieve this?  It is important to really understand what result you want from your marketing tactics.  Is it to generate awareness, get potential customers to visit your outlet, drive them to the web or something different?  If you don’t know this then you will never get what you want and waste your marketing money.

Customer retention needs attention when putting marketing campaigns together.  It is important to build up a database of your customers so that you can understand them better.  Increased knowledge leads (in the main) to increases in sales as you can look after your customers in the way that THEY want to be looked after. After all, when you are a customer don’t you want to be looked after in a way that meets YOUR needs?

Actually closing a sale can be fraught with issues.  Not least because we fear being too pushy - or not pushy enough!  If you have the right relationship with your customer this is a much easier and more laid back process.  People often enjoy being sold to, especially if the seller is knowledgeable about their offering.  Quiet enthusiasm for a product or service can be infectious and a deep knowledge about it can leave a lasting favourable impression – especially if that knowledge is mixed with an understanding of the customer’s needs and the benefits that the product or service gives them.

So, if you are concerned about selling make it easy for yourself by:

Using your marketing tactics to the best effect Know your customers and prospects as well as you can Know your products and services intimately – and be able to sell the BENEFITS not the features Be enthusiastic – after all if YOU aren’t how can you expect your customers to be?!
 
Julie McKeown, Chartered Marketer
Sorath Marketing
01597 840456/07967 970123
julie@sorath.co.uk
www.sorathmarketing.co.uk

And Finally.....

Calling all Fodder Producers - Rural World would like to see lots more of you advertising in our fodder section so to give you all a bit of extra encouragement, we are offering each new fodder producer three months of advertising for free!  There is no catch, simply contact us and we will send you either a link to a free sign up page or we will post or fax you a printed version of the sign up form.

The Rural World Newsletter reaches thousands of people from the rural and agricultural sector. If you are a member of Rural World and would like to share your news with us, contact us and we will do our best to include you in our newsletter.  Joining Rural World is easy.  You can have a directory listing including details of your business, your contact details, a logo or image and a link to your website for just £15.  Simply click here or contact us and we will send you a printed sign up form.

All articles are provided by subscribers of the Rural World site and as such are not the opinion or advice of Rural World or its owners.