Farm News 166

A new strain of MRSA has been found in some dairy herds. The strain was first detected in 2007 and did not show up under traditional test methods. Milk remains safe to drink as the bug is killed by the pasteurisation process.

A recent report from DEFRA states that maintaining the UK countryside provides benefits of more than £30bn per year. The national assessment looked at the whole of the natural environment and was produced in advance of the forthcoming Natural Environment White Paper on the subject.

The severe winter has meant that some farmers have lost up to one-third of their sugar beet crop. Whilst the world price of sugar has been rising, the price paid to producers by British Sugar has not, leading many to question the economics of continuing with the crop.

The decision by Russia to end its ban on grain exports in July caused the price to fall on world markets. Prices are predicted to remain volatile as there are doubts about the size of the forthcoming Russian harvest and likely amounts available for export. The dry spring may reduce UK yields by up to 25% on lighter lands.

A major new grain handling and storage facility is to be built near Kettering in the East Midlands by the farmer co-operative Camgrain. The first phase with a capacity of 55,000 tonnes will open in time for the 2012 harvest. The second phase will increase capacity to 90,000 tonnes.

Ministers from the “G20” countries are to meet, this month, to discuss food security and prices. High on the agenda is how the speculative activity of commodity traders can be curbed. The UN has concluded that speculative trading is responsible for a significant part of recent food price rises as billions of dollars have poured into the market.