Farm News 157

Changes to the TB controls for higher risk herds and new terminology to describe the status of herds came into force on 1st January 2011. Herds will be placed in one of three categories, namely, Officially TB Free (OTF), Officially TB Free Suspended (OTFS) where disease is suspected and Officially TB Free Withdrawn (OTFW) where disease is confirmed. The new terminology brings Britain into line with the EU.

There is concern that the recent severe weather will hit the oilseed rape crop. The hard frosts have damaged sizeable areas of the crop in the northern parts of Britain and most are unlikely to recover.

The latest survey of farm incomes in Wales shows mixed results for the last twelve months. Input costs rose by up to 20% across the sectors, dairy farms fared poorly with reductions of up to 13% in farm gate milk prices. Hill and upland livestock producers had a better year with income rises of between 19% and 56%. Welsh farming, overall, receives £280m in EU subsidies and most sectors would not be viable without this support.

A strengthening demand for milk supplies from manufacturing is forecast to lead to higher prices for farmers. Both Tesco and Milk Link have recently announced rises for producers.

The Organic Trade Board is embarking on a £1.8m campaign to reverse the decline in UK sales in the sector. The fund includes support from the EU. Sales of organic food in other European states are up to four times higher than in the UK. Conventional farmers have complained about unfair and misleading statements in the campaign literature.

Following the demise of the Royal Show in 2009, the Royal Agricultural Society has announced a £50m property deal partnership to develop the showground. The deal comes after criticism of the Society’s management. Developments on the site will be related to agriculture and rural interests, ruling out use for housing and industry.

European farmers’ organisations have warned the EU against introducing any further regulations to make the CAP “greener”. They point out the measures that have been implemented in the last twenty years and the costs to agriculture that cannot be wholly passed on. EU states import products from countries not subject to these costly regulations, giving them a price advantage.

In order to meet budget and restructuring targets, the RPA which is responsible for administering the Single Payment scheme, is to reduce its 3,400 workforce by 20% over the next two years.