Farm News 167

A strategy and action plan for the development of the anaerobic digestion industry, produced by DEFRA, has been criticised as lacking targets and firm action. The industry is expanding, but only slowly, with 35 plants operational and a further 33 under construction and planning. Farm waste is likely to account for around 10% of the material consumed by such plants. The slight increases in Feed-in-Tariffs, recently announced are unlikely to significantly boost the number of installations.

Permission is being sought for the first field trials of GM wheat in the UK to begin next year. The wheat has been modified to resist aphid attack thus reducing the need to spray. Trials of GM potatoes continue although the commercial growing of GM crops is banned in the EU.

The Welsh government has again postponed the proposed badger cull in order to reassess the science behind the plan. The move has been criticised by farm leaders with TB costing over £12m annually. DEFRA is still considering what action to take in England.

The NFU (E&W) is to expand its headquarters in Warwickshire with the addition of a £1.8m conference centre.

Merchants are warning of a shortage of seed, particularly for barley and oats, this autumn. Dry growing conditions have had an adverse affect on seed production in a market that is traditionally finely balanced between supply and demand.

Emyr Jones, a livestock farmer from N Wales, has been elected president of the FUW. Mr Jones has been deputy president since 2003.

Increased world demand for agricultural machinery is leading to longer lead times on the delivery of new tractors. Sales in the UK are up by 3.4% in the year to date with a surge in demand of almost 20% in May.

The Agricultural Wages Board for England & Wales has awarded farm workers increases of 2.5% to 2.9%. The rise in Scotland was 2.5%. Employers are unhappy with the awards and with the continuing existence of the Boards in Great Britain which are likely to be abolished in the near future.

Farmers Weekly has launched a crime register to help tackle the £40m per year rural crime bill. The register is accessed via the website. Meanwhile, a Cheltenham based security firm, has created a specialised farm protection team to help deter thieves and evict travellers illegally camped on farmland.