FarmWeb News 03/12/12

Russia has agreed to lift the ban on imports of British lamb and beef, imposed in 1986 following the BSE outbreak. Russia generally takes a fairly tough line on the inspection and standards of imported food products. The Russian market could be worth up to £80m to beef and lamb producers, over the next three years. This breakthrough follows recent positive efforts by DEFRA to increase food exports to China.

The potato crop in GB is set to be the lowest since 1976. The area of crop planted was down 5% on 2011 and yields have fallen by 21% to produce an estimated 4.5m tonnes. Over 10% of the crop is still in the ground and some farmers are considering leaving it until spring, in the hope ground conditions will improve. Retail prices are already starting to rise.

Despite receiving higher prices, pig producers are still losing an average of £4 per animal with little sign of the gap being closed. UK pork exports reached 15,700t in September, the highest for twelve years with 1,400t going to China.

In an effort to cut the number of fatalities and serious injuries to young rural drivers, The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs is rolling out a driver training programme “Drive it Home”, to its members.

The Dutch meat processor ‘Vion’, has announced its decision to exit the UK. Vion is a major player in the UK market with 38 plants and 13,000 employees, turning over £2.4bn. Vion processes 30% of UK pigs. Tight margins and strong competition are blamed for the move. Buyers are being sought for the business.

A leading scientist has criticised the Welsh Government’s policy of vaccinating badgers against TB. He maintains that there is no track record or scientific evidence that this course of action will be effective. Over 1,400 badgers have been vaccinated in West Wales in the first part of the five year programme.

After much criticism in past years, the Rural Payments Agency now believes it has turned the corner on service to customers in England.  It aims to improve on last year and make payments to 91% of claimants by the end of December. Most Welsh and Scottish farmers will also receive their money this month.