FarmWeb News – 01/07/2019

Responding to calls in the media for people to eat less meat for environmental reasons the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association highlights the fact that all systems do not have the same impact. Cattle and sheep that are 100% grass-fed benefit the countryside, overall without the higher carbon footprint of feed grain production.

Exports of British cheese reached a record £665m in 2018 with exports to Asian markets growing at an unparalleled pace led by China and Malaysia with combined imports of over £11m. The USA imports £50m, the EU remains the largest export market and cheddar the most popular cheese with 48% of the market. Export growth has continued into 2019 at 14% for the first quarter.

The Welsh Government has announced that the current Basic Payment Scheme will end after 2021. It will be replaced by a new post-Brexit scheme targeting biodiversity, carbon emissions and clean air. Farmers are concerned that incentives are needed to safeguard food production with current subsidies accounting for 80% of incomes, on average.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned Defra that it must carefully approach its roll-out of the post-Brexit subsidy scheme. There will be less than one year for farmers to consider important choices. The NAO points out that agriculture contributes over £8bn to the economy and employs 470,000 people. It estimates that 42% of farmers would make a loss without direct subsidy payments.

The milk processor, Arla, has announced that prices for July will remain unchanged, for the sixth month in a row. A sign of the present stability in the market although volumes are rising throughout Europe with the UK forecast to reach a 29-year high. Arla currently pays producers 30.22p/litre for conventional milk and 41.47p/litre for organic.

Defra is moving forward with the, previously announced, six-monthly TB tests for cattle in High Risk areas. In addition, £300,000 has been allocated for badger vaccinations to create buffer zones around those High Risk areas. Farmers can apply for grants of up to 50% of the cost of the vaccinations.

Food and drink exports to China have received a boost with finalisation of the protocol opening up the market for beef products, worth up to £230m in the first five years. Exports of pork are also set to rise with China now importing food and drink products worth over £600m from the UK.