Farm News 162

The UK oilseed rape harvest is on track to be a record and by a considerable margin. The harvest is expected to come in at 2.5m tonnes, a rise of 400,000 tonnes on last year. Prices remain very firm at over £400/tonne as demand continues to exceed supply. The UK is the third largest producer in the EU.

Beef prices have risen 9% in the last year and have broken through the £3 per kilo level for the first time. The rise is driven by rising production costs and a shortage of supplies.

Agricultural students are not immune to the high costs of fees. The Royal Agricultural College and several leading universities have announced their intention of charging the maximum of £9000 subject to government approval.

A number of crime prevention initiatives are being launched, around the country, to help combat the rise in thefts of agricultural machinery and vehicles. The initiatives involve farmers, insurers and the police. NFU Mutual is to exhibit a “super secure” tractor at shows across the south of England this summer.

Dairy Crest is the latest of the large processors to raise the price they pay their preferred producers for milk. The rise of 1p/litre will be paid for six months to reflect an increase in production costs. Dairy Crest recently increased its price to consumers by 3p/litre.

Sales of organic products fell by 6% to £1.73bn in 2010, although sales of organic beef rose by 18%. Both the acreage and number of organic farmers fell slightly during the year but the sector remains optimistic about the future.

The price of agricultural land in the UK has continued the upward trend that was evident throughout 2010.Market demand exceeds supply and banks remain willing to support buyers with land seen as a sound long term investment.