Farm News 178

The UK has persuaded the EU to delay the implementation of electronic tagging for the 8 million sheep born before 1st January 2010, until 2014. This will save farmers up to £11.5m over the next three years.

Tractor sales are up 4% to the end of November and at 13,398, have already exceeded the total for 2010.

Work has started on the first national badger survey in England since 1997. DEFRA says that having an estimate of badger numbers will help them in planning future policy. A decision on two trial culls of badgers, in England, is expected soon. A decision on the cull in Wales has been deferred until the New Year.

Plans to bring fast broadband to rural areas have stalled. Despite Government assurances to the contrary, work has not started in any of the four pilot areas named last year.

Cereal prices are forecast to ease during 2012 but to remain firm due to tight world supplies and continuing demand.

The EU has agreed to give dairy farmers more power to negotiate fair prices for their products and to balance the power between producers, processors and retailers. Producer groups will have more say in the prices for raw milk and an increased influence in the dairy supply chain. The changes are aimed at helping producers cope with the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

Following the demise of the national organisation, the Norfolk branch of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group has reformed as a stand alone business. Local farmers have taken up positions as chairman and directors of the new concern.

Police in Hampshire and Northumberland are warning farmers and rural businesses of an increase in the number of thefts of heating oil and fuel from tanks and vehicles. Thefts are mainly from unsecured stores which are usually visible from the road.

The Government has published the Water White Paper on the future use and regulation of water resources. Farming leaders have generally welcomed the consultation document as concerns rise over the future availability of adequate supplies. Irrigation of crops is critical in some areas but farming uses only 1% of water abstracted from rivers.