Farm News 165

The Farming Regulation Task Force, formed in June 2010, to recommend changes to the rules and regulations governing farming, has presented a report to the agriculture minister. It recommends changes in 200 areas to remove duplication and ease the administrative burden on farmers.

The addresses of the farms taking part in the badger cull in West Wales may be kept secret to avoid reprisals by animal activists. Meanwhile the Government has confirmed that it has not yet decided whether to order a cull in England.

The danger of employing unlicensed farm workers is highlighted by a court case in Swindon. Nineteen farmers are in the dock over the use of an unlicensed gangmaster, Marden Management, who supplied British and foreign workers to UK dairy farms. Those accused include Reading University and the NFU (E&W) vice president.

A prosecution by Health & Safety resulted in a major farming company being fined £120,000 with £45,000 costs after an employee was electrocuted whilst combining. The trial highlighted a number of failings on the part of the employer. Organisations within the industry have launched a new initiative, The Farm Safety Charter, to help cut the high number of deaths in the sector.

The number of farmers applying for the Single Payment on line almost doubled to 30,000 in 2011, around 30% of the total. On line applications are part of the RPA plan to improve the speed and accuracy of their payments system which has attracted much criticism over the years.

The Government has published plans for the appointment of the new Groceries Code Adjudicator. The code is intended to curb abuses in the grocery food chain and protect the interests of the consumer. Farming leaders see it as a tool to reign in the power of the supermarkets but fear it will lack teeth. Supermarkets are critical of the initiative and forecast it will increase their costs and therefore the price to consumers.

Increasing world demand and production problems have resulted in a rise in fertiliser prices of 10-30% over 2010. The traditional buying season in the UK has started earlier than usual and farmers have been surprised at price levels. Trade remains brisk with high cereal prices meaning that fertilisers are still affordable.