Farm News 169

Latest figures from the EU show the average farm gate milk price in the UK is 26.2p per litre, the lowest of the EU-27 countries. The EU average is 12.5% higher, with producers in some countries getting well over 30p per litre.

Good progress is being made with the oilseed rape harvest with yields in many areas being better than expected. The arrival of new supplies to the market has resulted in a price fall of around 3%.

DEFRA has announced further plans to consider a cull of badgers in areas of South West England and the Midlands worst affected by TB. The initial plans include the involvement of farmers in the cull but lawyers have already warned of legal problems with this aspect. The cull is to be preceded by a nine week consultation period and has been welcomed by farmers.

The world demand for lamb exceeds supply resulting in a strong market that is likely to continue for some time yet. Rising demand from the Far and Middle East has coincided with a fall in supplies from New Zealand to the benefit of British producers. Currently, 30% of English lamb is exported. Welsh lamb is to be promoted in Europe over the next three years, in a recently announced £3.5m marketing scheme.

The Labour opposition is campaigning for the retention of the Agricultural Wages Board which is due to be abolished in the near future. Labour maintains that it will have an adverse effect on workers. Farm employers welcome the abolition.

Farming leaders have welcomed the proposed changes to planning regulations announced by the Government. The draft policy recognises the need for change and diversification in farming and supports sustainable development in those areas.

Sales of seed for some varieties of wheat and barley are 30% up on last year. The rise is due to concern over availability as supplies are tight following the spring drought.