Farm News 170

Following a judgement in the European Court, the published list of recipients of EU subsidies has been significantly shortened with the removal of sole traders and family partnerships. Only 17,000 of the 210,000 domestic recipients will now be identified.

Sales of organic produce fell by 6% to £1.7bn in 2010. This continues the decline since the peak in 2008 when sales reached £2.1bn. The number of organic producers and acreage has reduced accordingly as farmers switch back to conventional methods.

Recent research estimates the grouse shooting industry in England and Wales to be worth almost £68m. It supports over 1,500 jobs and grouse moor owners spent £52m on moorland management in 2010.

A rural crime survey carried out by NFU Mutual shows that farm thefts rose by 17% to almost £50m in 2010. Whilst expensive power tools are still the most popular items stolen, thefts of tractors, fuels and livestock have all risen significantly.

Nine major retailers and processors have been fined a total of £50m by the OFT for price fixing in relation to milk and cheese in 2002 and 2003. Tesco, one of those fined, has indicated its intention to appeal against the decision.

A survey has shown that dairy farmers’ confidence in their own industry has fallen with over 10% intending to quit and few planning on major capital investment in the next five years. Optimism was greater amongst younger producers with larger herds and good retailer contracts. MPs have called for the Government to intervene in the industry to ensure fair and clear contracts for producers.

Increased acreage planted and higher yields have led to a fall in potato prices for the 2011 harvest. Good growing conditions have brought the main crop in two weeks early with average yields up by 15%.