Farm News 172

To highlight the launch of their new Farm Safety Crusade, NFU Mutual has estimated that injuries from falling bales will cost around £10m in 2011.

The EU seems likely to abolish sugar quotas and minimum prices in 2016, 12 months after the current regime is due for review. The action is forecast to reduce prices by 9%. The UK sugar beet harvest is now underway and good growing conditions look likely to result in a heavy crop with a high sugar content. However, processing at the four factories is threatened by strike action by workers unhappy with a pay offer.

A number of companies are now offering barn buildings specifically designed to host solar panels rather than having them fitted afterwards. The companies are forecasting that the electric generated by the panels will give a return on capital of 6-10%. Such installations are forecast to become more attractive as the cost of the panels falls.Insurance implications.

In an effort to combat falling sales of organic produce, the Soil Association is to attempt to dispel the elitist image of the sector. It is felt that the public have become more interested in buying local produce than organic.

The NFU has announced its intention to set up a dedicated professional service for tenant farmers to advise on all aspects of tenancies via links with local land agents and valuers. The service will be in direct competition with the Tenant Farmers Association which, itself, grew out of a perception that their particular needs were not being met by the NFU.

Plans to introduce a grocery chain ombudsman to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and farmer producers are likely to be delayed until 2014. The bill will not be debated until 2013.

Three of the four agricultural colleges in Scotland have agreed to merge in an effort to secure their future and improve the quality and delivery of their education and skills courses. The fourth is likely to join them. The move has been welcomed by the NFUS.

Despite gloomy forecasts following the spring drought, the wheat harvest in England looks to have recovered well to be only slightly down on the five year average. The total crop is estimated at 13.6m tonnes.