Farm News 161

Industry groups have called for a change to the way new entrants are attracted into farming. A recent conference highlighted the barriers to entry and called for more tenancies to be made available. One large landlord comments that too many enter farming as a lifestyle choice and not as a business decision.

Rising input costs and tight marketing conditions mean that 25% of poultry producers are running at a loss. The average profit margin on poultry has fallen to 3%.

The 800 members of Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group are to receive a record 29.78p per litre for their milk from 1st April. This new price is around 3p/litre above the market average.

Exports of butter and cheese rose by 22% and 8% respectively during 2010. However, the imports of dairy produce still exceed exports by £1.2bn.

The December 2010 census of UK agriculture shows that cattle, sheep and pig numbers have fallen to 9.9m, 21.3m and 4.4m, respectively. The falls are under 1% but the numbers are at their lowest level for 10 years.

The number herds with a TB reactor fell by 200 in Wales but rose by 270 in England, to 3622 during 2010. Almost 8,000 herds were under movement restrictions across Great Britain. Farming leaders are again calling for the government to act on improving TB control measures.

The promised review of Feed-in Tariffs has got under way quickly with Government proposals to cut support by between 42% and 72% for larger solar panel schemes. This will have a dramatic effect on the viability of such schemes. A small increase in the rates for anaerobic digestion, where the uptake has been disappointing, is proposed. 

DEFRA has introduced tougher measures on cattle identification after evidence that some farmers have switched ear tags from diseased to healthy stock. In future, any animal testing positive for TB will be tagged and a sample of its DNA taken for future checks.