FarmWeb News 02/09/2013

The rising price of UK farmland continues to make the headlines. Latest figures show the average price rose to £7,440 per acre in the first six months of this year. A 13 acre block, in Cheshire, went for over £12,000 an acre pushing the average for that area to £8,800/acre. Tenants have expressed concerns that this will lead to rent increases.

The long delayed pilot badger culls have started in Somerset and Gloucestershire drawing protest from some wildlife groups. The NFU (E & W) President has written to all members explaining the rationale behind the culls and confirming that operational details will not be made public. The NFU obtained an injunction to protect farmers in the pilot cull areas from unlawful action by animal rights activists.

The Solar Power Trade Association has produced new guidelines to minimise criticism that solar arrays on farmland are displacing crops. The guidelines state that the arrays should be restricted to non-agricultural and lower quality land and combined with grazing and bio-diversity projects where possible.

British farm machinery manufacturers exported £903m of equipment in the first six months of this year, a rise of 9%.  Imports fell by 14% to £940m in the same period. The USA, France and Germany were the largest customers.

DEFRA is sending a food trade mission to the World Food Exhibition, in Moscow, in September. The mission will promote UK food and drink exports to Russia which have increased over the last ten years to £121m with further significant potential.

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is putting forward proposals on rent reviews, tenants’ improvements and security of succession in talks with the Scottish Government. The talks are ahead of the review of the Agricultural Holdings legislation, next year.

The Control of Vibrations at Work Regulations 2005, are due to come into effect for agriculture in July 2014. The regulations will relate to farm machinery built before 2007 and may restrict the time farmers can spend in their tractors to limit possible adverse health effects.

Negotiations between the NFU (E&W) and British Sugar continue over the price for next year’s crop. The two parties have been at loggerheads for some weeks but the NFU feels progress is now being made.