ACF Update for May 2016

Goodbye to the Retiring Chairman and Welcome to the New Chairman

The previous Chairman, Peter Carruthers, was nicknamed by the Committee Dr Clarity and with good reason. Graham Hinds who is now retiring might be described as Mr Steady. In a measured way he is totally consistent and reliable. He does not set the world on fire but he keeps the fire alight. He has started and leads a local ACF group in Derbyshire, capable of drawing together up to a 100 people. He has been the county’s Agricultural Chaplain and FCN’s Coordinator. All this is combined with a gentle humour and care for those around him. ACF will continue to benefit from his presence in the National Committee.

So it is a big thank you from all of us to Graham for years of valuable service.

We now want to welcome our new Chairman, John Plumb, a long standing ACF member and bearer of a familiar name! He describes himself below.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’

(Colossians 3:17)

Farming offers such a diverse range of activities, and we all have our favourite, and not so favourite, tasks. The challenge is in the ‘whatever’ – doing it all for Jesus. Some years back I decided that if any given job was not a joy and an act of worship then I was either doing the wrong thing or needed to change my attitude!

With trepidation I begin as chairman, yet trusting that together we may continue to bring hope to those fearful of the farming future, faith to those struggling, and love to those who have yet to encounter our amazing God and Father.

Events for 2016

We are planning a number of smaller meetings in different localities rather than one formal conference. These will be on the basis of asking people to bring sandwiches and contribute informally to the cost. If you are not an ACF member we will invite you to join with a reduced first year’s subscription.

Bath – The first of these will be in Bath on Saturday, 28 May.

Time: 11am to 3.30pm

Venue: St Bartholomew’s Church Centre, 1 King Edward Rd, Bath, BA2 3PB

Tel 01225 427 428

Administrator’s mobile: 07733 354 905


Biblical Themes and Farming – Rev Robert de Berry will open our session by talking about the way in which ‘Honey and Thistles’ has used the Biblical material referred to. He will then lead discussions on this particular aspect.

Robert’s life has been a mixture of rural development in Africa and leading challenging Parishes in England.

Our World’s Themes and Agriculture – Richie Alford, Policy Adviser at Send a Cow, will then talk about the way in which the political and economic realities around farming imperil the long-term future of sustainable agriculture, and will lead further discussion on this aspect.

Richie is a former dairy farmer whose focus is now the way in which food and agriculture policy affects small farmers. He has clear views about the way in which farmers need to understand the realities in this area.

What are our themes in relation to agriculture – John Wibberley will reflect upon, and lead discussion on how all this impacts on our daily lives, whether as farmers, consumers or lobbyists – how do we live our Christian responses?

John, who has been an ACF member from the day it began has taught in Cirencester and in Reading University and challenged and advised those running farming schemes and programmes from Kenya to Exmoor.

Tiptoeing into Peril

For three years negotiations have been going on between the EU and the United States to establish a ‘Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership’ (TTIP), which is designed to harmonise rules and regulations around procurement, product safety and regulation. As the realities of the discussion have gradually emerged more and more people on both sides of the Atlantic have started to see problems. One is the secrecy of the negotiations, the second is the extent of corporate lobbying and influence. Another difficulty is the proposal that when a company’s trading prospects are reduced by changes of legislation in another country it will be able to sue that country’s government for compensation in a ‘court’ consisting only of trade lawyers. This is one of those corporate wheezes that is so bizarre that people either do not believe it, or do not quite understand it. This process known as ISDS is attracting increasing opposition.

As we have already said the drive behind all this is from large companies, but within Europe the UK Government and much of the city of London appear to be keen supporters. Much of the opposition is organised by NGO’s both sides of the Atlantic acting together.

In the case of food the dangers are well summarised by the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy in the US. “So, like so many trade issues, it’s not a question of the U.S versus the EU, per se, but rather the corporate interests driving the trade agenda on both sides. On the U.S side, that includes pressure to “harmonize” EU food safety standards to allow for sales of GMOs, beef produced with hormones and chlorine-rinsed chicken. On the EU side, it seems to be pushing aside U.S. procurement programs that favour small businesses and local producers. Either way, it’s a bad deal to trade off local standards in Europe for local economies in the U.S.—one that should be soundly rejected.”

Far better to have a negotiation leading to protection of local procurement in Europe and rights for US citizens to know what they are eating!

ACF Bulletin 25 years ago

How Now Send-a-Cow

It is now over two years since Send-a-Cow started working in Uganda. It has now sent 174 cows, over 15000 straws of semen, 20 goats, 3 motor bikes, 1 Land Rover and recently 55 embryos for implant. Small projects have been helped in Kenya and the highlands of Ethiopia, but the projects in Uganda remain the most important aspect of the work.

The System

Each cow is given to a needy family, which must have a very low income and have children to support yet be capable of looking after a cow. A management blueprint has been worked out which the family must stick to or the cow may be taken away. The blueprint involves several aspects:

  • Keeping the cow in a shelter so that it does not wander through the bush where it may pick up ticks, which carry diseases.

  • Treating the cow regularly with tick-killer. Prevention of tick-borne disease is possible, provided that the recommendations are adhered to. This is infinitely better than cure after infection has occurred.

  • Zero grazing is practised using Napier grass. Each farm must grow a minimum of 2 acres of this high yielding grass, which must be cut when 3-4 feet high. The rainfall in central Uganda is about 50 inches per year and is well distributed throughout the year. The temperature is similar to a hot English summer so grass grows well.

  • Records must be kept of milk yield and use, together with the details of calving, service dates etc, and any veterinary treatments.

  • Training is provided and is compulsory before a family is given a cow. Each cow is regularly visited by a supervisor, either Send-a-Cow’s own staff, a qualified vet or advisers from other organisations.

    The Results

    So far results have been most encouraging. Mortality is in single figures and milk yields have been good, averaging 17 litres from straight forage. Getting cows back into calf has been one of the main problems. However, a cow going on giving 8 litres a day is still a life saver in Uganda, providing much needed protein, energy and vitamins for children. When there is a surplus of milk it can be sold to raise money for school fees which are a big problem for poor families.

    An independent review states that the project has had a real impact.

There can be no merely secular activity; we Christians are all full time for the Kingdom of God. Though I still fall far short of this goal I do aspire to it.

From childhood I never doubted God’s existence, the evidence of his creation showing in every blade of grass. He speaks clearly and daily through what he has made. Having shifted through a few strange ideas of who God might be, my life-changing encounter with the Saviour came at the close of three agreeable years at Wye College.

This experience led to two years of missionary work in agricultural development with the indigenous people of northern Argentina. Here I was not only grounded in the faith but also met Betty, who became my wife.

Returning to the family tenanted farm we soon had children to bring up, and faced some testing times . The ‘whatever’ has been challenged, and we are still learning to be disciples of Christ. Church became a large part of daily life, but farming was always part of the mix.

My connection with ACF goes back to my early days of farming. I see the group as a vast reservoir of accumulated experience and godly wisdom, which modern farming now needs even more than ever.


Retiring and New Chairman

Events for this Year

Tiptoeing into Peril

EU – In or Out

ACF Bulletin 25 years ago

Venue for campsite

Thought of the day

East Midlands – Date and venue to be announced. Watch the website!

This meeting will follow a similar pattern to the one at Bath.

West Midlands – Cultivating Conviviality –

‘Sharing food and farming’

Date: Saturday, 10 September

Venue: At the new Chairman’s farm in Coleshill.

Time: 3.00pm to 7.00pm

This will explore the possibilities of relations between farming and the wider population.

Anyone who registers for any of these meetings will be sent a copy of Honey & Thistles if they don’t already have one. In either case make your first contact with the national office.

Visit to Wurtemburg – 26 to 30 September 2016

As many of you may know, when ACF was contemplating the establishment of FCN we were inspired in large part by the work of the Protestant Farmers’ Association (PFA) in Wurttemberg, Germany. There have been several visits both ways and one is planned to Germany this September and have extended an invitation to any member of ACF or FCN who may be interested in accompanying them. If nearer the time we have spare places we can offer it more widely.

The proposed programme will include the following:

* Exploration of the PFA program which provides relief workers, domestic or agricultural, for families encountering problems like sickness in order to consider what might be possible in the UK

* Visit(s) to local farms.

* Comparison between the administration and operation of European Policy in Britain and

Germany. Also, to compare the general relationship with government.

* To have some discussion about the overall trends of farming and agricultural politics.

* Some discussion on farming, climate change and renewable energy generation as an opportunity for farmers.

* A look at Christian issues underlying all these topics.

The cost of the travel and the accommodation would need to be borne by each delegate but will be quite reasonable since we will be staying in PFA lodgings at 50 Euros a day all in.

If you are interested contact the ACF national office. Sooner rather than later.


EU – In or Out

In the last edition of the Update we said, ‘Those advocating UK exit from the EU need to be pressed very hard on what they intend for farming’. We do not know whose been pressing who! However, the NFU has come out clearly in favour of Britain staying. George Dunn, Chief Executive of Tenant Farmers’ Association has commented ‘As I travel around the country, many farmers in their heart of hearts would like to see Britain leave the EU. They find it attractive to consider a future of self-determination, of clear policies, which would deliver a vibrant and prosperous agricultural industry, resilient against volatility and proudly supported by our own Government. However, they simply do not trust their British Politicians would ever deliver such a vision and are therefore likely to vote to remain in the EU.’

Commenting on a proposal in Brussels for an EU School Food Plan, the Farmers Union of Wales has branded the UK’s refusal to support this as ‘A knock for agriculture’. The scheme which has an annual budget of 250 Euros will see supporting countries select agricultural products to supply to schools in an attempt to promote the quality of both local food and healthy eating habits. ‘The lack of support for this scheme confirms a key fear with regard to a lack of support for agriculture from the UK Government. As we approach the EU referendum it just become clearer how much support we could expect from our own Government’. It may also be linked with the UK Government’s enthusiasm for TTIP.

So far in the campaign there has been very little about farming.

We would welcome any correspondence from readers and if there is sufficient we will circulate it before the referendum.

Wanted – New site for a Childrens’ Christian camp

Brian Walshe, from Pioneer Christian Camp, is asking if any member of ACF has a large enough piece of land to host their summer camp in August 2017 and then every other year.

Pioneer Christian camp exists to give children a great holiday in a Christian environment. They are part of Grace Baptist Mission youth work. All volunteers are dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus through this camp each year.

The site will need to accommodate 2 large marquees, 1 small marquee, 22 bell tents, sports equipment, tuck shop and first aid tent, plus extra tents. A sports and general area will also be required.

If you are able to help please contact the national office.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY – Stewardship

In Genesis we read of Adam being put into the garden “to care for it”. Also, God is described as giving humans dominion over nature. In view of mankind’s poor record in care of the earth this could be troubling. However, it is linked with man being “made in the image of God” which implies different behaviour. We see human life lived in the image of God in Jesus. As he prepared for his ministry, three areas of temptation emerged: to ignore God, to coerce people into belief and stones into food. As we reflect on this last and on Jesus’ response, the full meaning may be hard to fathom, but Jesus is certainly not exercising the sort of dominion which exploits the earth without restraint or regard for its intrinsic worth. The stones can be stones.