Farm News 158

The German dioxin scare has forced UK pig prices down as demand for pigmeat has fallen. This coupled with higher feed costs is leading to a loss of £21 per pig for producers. Asda is to pay a support supplement to its producers and the EU is considering plans to support the market.

South Korea is suffering the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the country’s history. Over 3 million cattle have been slaughtered since the start of the outbreak in November, at a cost of £841m. We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the last major UK outbreak.

DEFRA forecasts that, in England, incomes on livestock farms will fall over the next year with pigs down 68%, beef 50% and dairy 28%. Arable farmers are set to benefit from the current high prices for commodities with rises of up to 68% for cereal growers.

Total income from farming in Scotland rose by 25%, last year, to £618m. The rise was due to higher prices for cereals, oilseed rape and finished sheep and cattle together with a slight fall in overall input costs.

A survey of over 800 dairy units, carried out by the NFU (E&W) showed the average cost of milk production exceeded the average price by 3p per litre, resulting in losses to the industry of £330m per year.  Rises in feed and bedding costs are adding to the losses sustained by producers.

There are fears that as much as 20% of the UK 7m tonne sugar beet crop could be lost due to adverse weather conditions. The mild, wet weather is causing a rapid deterioration of beet that has not yet been lifted making it impossible to process and leading to a £15m loss to growers.

Calls by the UK Government for substantial cuts to the CAP budget have been criticised by Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Ministers claim that such cuts would seriously damage the viability of agriculture in their areas.

The EU is planning to crack down on speculation in commodities, such as cereals, in an attempt to limit the unprecedented volatility in prices seen over the last twelve months.