Film ID: YFA 1256 Video of YFA_1256 Agricultural Co-Operation 1967-1968 AGRICULTURAL CO-OPERATION 1967-1968 Visitor TabsDescription This film shows the first few years of a new concept in British agriculture – co-operative farming. Three farmers from the Rotherham area have integrated their farms into the Thrybergh Farming Company. The film includes footage of those three farms as well as the various livestock they look after and the many crops which they plant and harvest. Title – Agricultural Co-operation Some aspects of total integration by three young farmers. The film opens with the three farmers standing together. A map then shows the three individual farms as well as the co-operative farm formed, all located near Rotherham. There is a shot of the farm house, tractor, and scenes of the surrounding landscape. With another view of the map, lines are drawn from the three separate farms to the new co-operative Thryberge Farming Company which consists of: 254 Acres, 40 Fattening Bullocks, 120 Pigs, 2050 Laying Hens, 6000 Broilers. Work begins on the farm, and the men start with digging. The land extracted is dumped on the back of a pick-up truck. Various materials and different stages of construction are shown for the digging of the slurry pit. This involved digging a large hole about 40 feet by 10 feet in the middle for the proposed site. To ensure that the slurry would flow to the end where it would be sucked out, the farmers made the floor sloping with a difference of about 1 foot. After the hole had been dug, steel shutters were erected all around the hole at a distance of 1 foot from the sides. Stacks of hay can be seen in the background. A boy stands in front of the finished hen shed, and the shed is shown from different angles. Here is where the laying hens are to be housed. The chickens are in cages, and one of the farmers goes around to the various cages to collect the eggs. These eggs are carried out of the shed on a kart and then loaded into the back of a green car. The eggs are collected and graded every day, but as a grading shed had not yet been built, the eggs were transported down to Grange Farm where the electronic grader was still installed. There is further construction of a grading and storage shed in the summer of 1968. More eggs are seen being collected, and after which the eggs are transferred to the grading shed where they are graded on a machine. It weighs each egg and divides it by its weight into one of five grades from extra large down to small. Outside there are more construction vehicles, and the ground is lightly dusted with snow signalling the change in seasons. The chicken cages are cleared out, and the waste us collected via a hose connected to the back of a truck. This is used to fertilize the fields with a David Brown tractor. There are more shots of the farm, and near the hen shed new baby chickens are dumped onto the ground from cardboard boxes. The farmers pick up the fully grown chickens and load them into crates in the back of a truck. The pig pen is the next part of the farm to be seen. The co-op's chief livestock is stock pigs, having a breeding unit of 700 sows. The pigs are being fed a mixture of barley, wheat, fish meal, soy beans, pea meal, vitamins, minerals, and artificial amino acids. The mix is made in their own mill which is situated in the old granary above the pig pens. Water is added to the mixture and the pigs brought up to feed in the sow crates. In these sow crates, each pig is fastened in an individual compartment and thus receives its own particular diet. When the sow is expecting, it is transferred to an individual pen which has 2 compartments – one for the mother, and the other, separated by bars, for the piglets – this is to stop the piglets from sleeping in the mother’s pen, as she might accidently lay on them. Eventually they are fed on a diet that fattens them, and are transferred from Old Oak Farm down to Chestnut Farm where the fattening process is completed, before they are sent to the markets when they reach a weight of about 200 pounds. Ploughing of the fields begins, and a tractor can be seen driving down the road before ploughing different fields. Manure from the pigs is used as fertilizer and spread across the fields. After the manure spreading comes the ploughing, when we break up the land after the previous year’s harvest. This process is captured from a number of different angles. Dark dirt is upturned from the ground, and different types of equipment, including a four furrow plough, are used during these processes -–filmed extensively in this portion of the film. Back at the barn, the farmers pull out large bags of seed to be loaded into the red seeding machine which are attached to the back of a tractor. The driver seeds the field, filling the machine with new seed when necessary. Planting is done by a seed drill which has two compartments. One is filled with fertilizer, and the other with corn seed. Underneath these compartments are 14 pipes – each pair joined at the bottom. When the drill is working the pipes trail in furrows and simultaneously drop one grain of corn and one grain of fertilizer into the ground. The fall of the seed and fertilizer is controlled by a plate which slides back and forth across the pipe in relation to the speed of the tractor. Potatoes are also planted with a similar machine to that used for the corn. The machine digs furrows in the ground for the potatoes to be planted. Later, after watering the fields, spraying the crops with weed killers, and other maintenance, the crops are harvested. The wheat crops are the first to be harvested. Hay stacks can also be seen spread out along one of the fields. They are gathered up and loaded in a massive stack onto the back of a large pick-up truck. The Farming Co-op is only able to keep about 2% of the straw which is used as bedding for the livestock. The bales are taken from the fields as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of the straw being rained on. With tight and expert packing 130 bales can be packed on each trailer load. These are loaded safely as in order to reach the barns they have to use public roads. The rest of the straw is then burned. Doing this removes the straw, removes the stubble, and helps to enrich the soil. The potatoes are ready to be harvested. They are dug up by a large blade, which also picks up a lot of soil and then put into the large revolving wheel, which shakes out the soil and transports them up onto the top table. Here the potatoes are removed and placed on another revolving table underneath this one, while the stones and remaining soil continue round the top table and drop off at the end. The potatoes on the bottom table travel round and are pushed onto a conveyor belt which transports them into a trailer which is permanently running alongside. When the trailer is full, another replaces it, and the full one goes to the potato storage sheds. In the final scenes of the film, one of the farmers is trying to fix a wheel on a part of farm machinery. One of the other farmers comes up behind him, taps him on the back, and after a long season’s work, opens up a bottle of ale offering the working farmer a sip. They fix the wheel together, and then it is back out into the fields. Title – The End. Context This film was made by John Sellers a farmer at Old Oak Farm just outside Rotherham. John had got together with two neighbouring farmers, Peter Morell and Martin Telling, to form an agricultural cooperative in October, 1966 – Thrybergh Farming Company. They decided it would be good to commit their new formed enterprise to film, and this film covers most aspects of their work over the course of a couple of years, from 1966, when the shed was put up, until 1968. This film was made by John Sellers a farmer at Old Oak Farm just outside Rotherham. John had got together with two neighbouring farmers, Peter Morell and Martin Telling, to form an agricultural cooperative in October, 1966 – Thrybergh Farming Company. They decided it would be good to commit their new formed enterprise to film, and this film covers most aspects of their work over the course of a couple of years, from 1966, when the shed was put up, until 1968. John started farming in 1954 at the age of 21. Although his grandfather was a farmer his father wasn’t, so this was a new enterprise for John; but one that he was fully committed to. Some cooperation between the three farms started as early as 1958, and in 1962 they built a joint grain store. Then in 1966 they bought a combine harvester between the three farms and decided to form a Company – Thrybergh Farming Company – within which the three farms would be merged, each plot of land being rented from the Company. This allowed for achieving economies of scale – combining production, supplies and marketing. The film description provides an overview of production on the three farms. Before this integration John Sellars was farming 69 acres, mostly with cereals, at Old Oak Farm, with some 20 sows, 15 herds of beef cattle, and 800 laying hens. At Chestnut Tree Farm Peter Morell was farming 120 acres of restored opencast land, along with 40 fattening bullocks and 250 laying hens. Martin Telling was working with his father at Grange Farm, where 60 dairy cattle were grazing on 65 acres of permanent grass, while in the farm buildings 1,000 laying hens and 6,000 eating birds were being raised. The cooperative proved to be very successful, continuing for 26 years until 1988. At that time the farms were handed over to the next generation, and these voted two-to-one to disband it. John himself didn’t retire until 2008, and his farm is now run by his son and daughter. These, along with the children of the other farmers, can be seen in the film – for example as they ride on the trailer. Also to be seen in the film is Peter Morell’s father, with his pipe. The idea for cooperative farming was boosted by the 1967 Agriculture Act which provided support for all forms of agriculture. The Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Cooperation was formed to be responsible for the administration of grants for cooperative purposes. Grants were made available for new machinery and buildings for joint ventures. The government followed the progress of the cooperative as they were pioneers for a policy the government were keen to promote. The film was actually shown to other farmers and helped to promote the cooperative idea. If anything, the film is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it was made. The idea of cooperation in agriculture remains an important issue when so many farmers across the world are struggling. And this is not just a concern for farmers. For those who have lived all their lives in a city farming can seem remote, but clearly what we eat and how we get it involves us all. Agriculture is caught up in a global economy with global issues, and there are increasing calls to eat local produce. We have come a long way in agriculture since the seeds of agriculture were sown in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago. How we feed the world has become an increasingly hot topic, throwing up a host of controversial issues: what should be produced and for whom? Why do so many people die of hunger? What is the role of the big corporations which control much food supply and retailing? How should farm animals be treated? Should animals be used for humans at all? How can agriculture aid biodiversity and ecosystems? Are genetically modified crops a good thing? What is the place of pesticides? The list could go on and on. Of course, this film is not designed to address any of these issues. But it is interesting to see what developments there have been in the farming practices shown since the film was made. The burning of stubble was banned after an accident on the M18, when someone was killed, was blamed on smoke produced by farm fires. Since then chemical weedkillers have become common to stop the spread of grass seeds. One of the more striking features of the film – at least to those not brought up on a farm – is the way the animals are handled. What has probably changed most is the attitude towards the treatment of farm animals. This was already becoming an issue with the publication in 1964 of Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines, and the beginnings of what was to become The Farm Animal Welfare Council. As the title of this body suggests, this concern has gradually made its way into legislation through the ideas of animal welfare, to prevent cruelty and suffering to animals. There are those who go further than this kind of prevention by developing ideas of animal rights. This really took off in the 1970s and has mushroomed since. For some who advocate animal rights the use of animals for any human purposes is unjustifiable. This position is bolstered by the growing evidence of just how much feelings – sentience – animals can have. These go beyond the usual ones of pleasure, pain, heat, cold, hunger, thirst, like and dislike to also include fear, loneliness and anxiety, and the positive feelings of pleasure and play. But even for organisations that stop short of this view, like the Compassion in World Farming Trust, there is still a long way to go before farm animals are treated without suffering. The National Farmer’s Union argue that the laws as they stand already do this, even though they may often get broken. Much hinges on what is considered to constitute care and compassion. The UK prides itself in leading the way in animal welfare, being responsible for the first legislation in this area with the 'Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle', in 1822. At present The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is responsible for all farming matters. The welfare of farm animals is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Statutory Instrument ‘The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007’. According to this a person responsible for a farmed animal must have regard to its physiological and ethological needs in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge. In addition there are European Commission Directives. All the regulations are brought together in the ‘Codes Of Recommendations For The Welfare Of Livestock’. Other organisations that oversee animal welfare include The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), an independent advisory body established by the Government in 1979, and the Royal Veterinary Centre for Animal Welfare, which adopts a very scientific approach to animal welfare. Other organisations challenge the ethical assumptions upon which this scientific approach is founded upon, raising broader issues of how humans should relate to other animal species. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims to be the largest such organisation. FAWC adopted a policy of ensuring five freedoms for animals soon after it was formed: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom from fear and distress. The RSPCA has adopted the same five freedoms and is critical of many practices, such as the conditions in the transportation of live animals. DEFRA also claims to support these same five freedoms. These very general aims allow for plenty of disagreement as to what they entail. Much of the debate has centred around one freedom in particular: ‘Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour So, for example, the RSPCA state that pigs should have bedding material at all stages of growth, whereas the DEFRA regulations do not stipulate this. The RSPCA also has a Freedom Food labeling system to identify animal products that have come from farms maintaining standards that have been set and monitored by the Society. - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals own kind’. The usefulness of home made films such as Agricultural Co-operation has recently been demonstrated by the BBC, who made a series of programmes of how agriculture has changed, Mud, Sweat and Tractors, using locally made films such as this. References The YFA has an interview with John Sellers conducted shortly after the film was made. Francis Donaldson and Derek Barber, Farming in Britain Today, Penguin Press, London, 1969. Raynor, A. J. and Ennew, C. T. 'Agricultural co-operation in the UK: a historical review.' Discussion Paper, Department of Economics, University of Nottingham. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: RSPCA: The Farm Animal Welfare Council: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): Further Information Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines, Vincent Stuart, London, 1964. Peter Singer (ed), In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave, Blackwell, Oxford, 2005.