Gwyn Jones' Farm Diary January 19

January continues, and we are counting the days! It will soon be time to think of the spring workload and start planning. Before I get carried away, we have our Farm Assurance inspection to get through, and we are cleaning, painting, cementing any crack in floor or wall, as the day approaches. The cows don't help much. They will lick any paint in sight; they seem to be making a real effort to be especially vandal-like in their behaviour as I become more paranoid about the big day. This weeke

The report on school milk for the government by the London School of Economics created headline news. The report advocated the removal of government subsidy for school milk, as it was unnecessarily beurocratic, and not money well spent. The UK is actually top of the European school milk league, distributing 49 million litres of milk under the scheme. The subsidy is paid by both the EU (80%) and the UK government (29%), amounting to around 15p per litre, and is used to subsidise the specially packed 1/3-pint cartons (with straw), which costs parents around 10p.

On average 80% of the money is used to cover admin: costs, mainly at the schools, and without it the price of milk would increase, as these admin: costs need to be covered. I am pleased to say that after much lobbying, and dismay by the general public, the government has now decided not to withdraw this money. This is a victory for common sense, as it safeguards the milk for school children. It is interesting that the LSE is advocating the removal of this subsidy across all schools, but perversely suggests that a new scheme should be put together to encourage teenage children to drink more milk, as they are short of calcium. How much does the LSE get paid for such conflicting advice?

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The makers of 'Stinking Bishop' cheese in Gloucestershire have vowed not to sell the business, after demand has soared due to the cheese being featured in the 'Wallace and Gromit' movie. Orders have flooded in from all over the world, but with a workforce of two, Charles Martell has been unable to cope with the 500% increase in demand. The company only makes 40 tonnes of the cheese each year, and can't increase production. Charles will not sell up because making cheese 'is in my blood'.

There is still a desperate shortage of organic milk, and demand is still rising. After many meetings with various parties, we are now beginning to see The Red tractor symbol is now a 'valued commodity' by the consumer, in this age of food scares and imported animal diseases. I hope that Gordon Brown will incorporate British food into his 'rebranding' programme, where he seems set to rally every citizen in this country around the flag.

Where are your environmental credentials Gordon? How can you talk of climate change, greenhouse gases, and global warming, without doing something about the increased percentage of food that is flown or trucked into this country? Food-miles, Gordon - think on. What about avian flu, foot and mouth and other diseases, which could come in under the current trend to search the world for cheaper food? Animal welfare? Production standards? Environmental care? These are all interlinked with supporting food from our own land.

Come on Gordon; let's not forget the public concern with such matters. Your campaign to define the term 'British' cannot be taken seriously without including British food, and the British countryside.

Gwyn Jones's Farm Diary appears every week in the West Sussex Gazette. To read the full version of this article, see January 19 issue