Wheat and Oat breeder Bill Angus voiced his frustration with the current impasse with regard to introducing forage oats into the UK.

“Forage oats are grown on millions of acres in North and South America and would give UK growers access to a new environmentally positive source of forage for a range of end users.

“Yet UK growers are denied access to forage oats varieties currently under test by unnecessarily conservative rules that APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) are subject to. In effect they are ‘green tape’ to match ‘red tape’in non-farming business areas.”

He questioned the rationale of APHA denying growers access to forage oats: “‘As there was no testing regime in place they designed one using grain oats as the comparator. The trials were therefore of limited relevance and, as important, made no assessments of the agronomic traits of the forage types.

He also questioned the lack of transparency of the process with no access to the decision making process: “forage oats are not a national security issue to be vetted by MI5, but a crop that is already grown by farmers on millions of hectares worldwide.” 

“We even provided independent farm experiences from UK growers and from an agronomist to illustrate the positive and practical on-farm benefits, but these were ignored.” 

Forage oats are a crop where seed could be produced in the UK for UK farmers, and with seed costs approximately 50% that of hybrid rye, this represents a missed opportunity for the UK unless APHA can review their current position.

Scottish growers  will be particularly disadvantaged as they cannot grow maize and certainly have the environment and skill set to make this an exciting opportunity.

“If we are really going to tackle climate change, we need to embrace innovation – not set up barriers to it”, added  Bill Angus. 

1.  Dictionary definition: ‘Red tape is an idiom referring to regulations or conformity to formal rules or standards which are claimed to be excessive, rigid or redundant, or to bureaucracy claimed to hinder or prevent action or decision-making. It is usually applied to governments, corporations, and other large organisations.’

For further information, contact Bill Angus, Angus Wheat Consultants:  bill@anguswheatconsultants.com

or The PR agency for AWC is Ahead Ltd: 07833630296 mail@aheadltd.co.uk