Farm News 175

The lack of autumn rainfall, across the Midlands, has led to concern over a shortage of feed through the winter. Reservoirs are low after the driest year since 1910 and the quality and quantity of grazing has suffered.

Expected good cereal harvests in Russia and other Black Sea countries are likely to lead to a rise in exports from the area. The rise is forecast to more than make up for the expected shortfall from the USA and should lead to an easing of prices on the world market.

The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group is expected to go into administration within the next few days. The Group, a charity, was set up in 1969 and has suffered losses since government funding was cut in 2010.

Government support for smaller solar power schemes is to be cut with reductions in the feed-in tariffs of 50% for new installations. Rates on larger schemes have already been cut. The new tariffs will hit householder and small commercial installations and raise doubts about viability. The solar power industry fears that the cuts will cause demand to collapse as happened in Spain.  Budget constraints are cited as the reason for the cuts.

High quality potash reserves have been found in North Yorkshire. Test drilling on the North Yorkshire Moors has unearthed a huge deposit that could last 100 years, supplying all of the UK needs and exports.

MPs have voted in favour of the Public Bodies Bill which will abolish a number of quangos including the Agricultural Wages Board. An amendment to remove the Board from the Bill was defeated. The Board was set up in 1948.

The financial outlook for the dairy industry has improved since the spring, boosted by rising milk prices andstrong market demand for animals. Exports to Europe have been helped by the strength of the euro against the pound and the UK becoming a bluetongue-free area.

The 64% rise in the cost of tractor thefts, in the last two years, has led to the launch of specific GAP insurance products for the agricultural sector, by ALA Insurance. The contracts provide cover for the shortfall between market value, at the time of loss and the full invoice cost or the amount of outstanding finance on the item.

The level of criticism over the proposed CAP reforms, from EU ministers, means that the new CAP is unlikely to be agreed in early 2013 for implementation in 2014. The UK government and farmers are unhappy with many of the proposals.