FarmWeb News 04/03/2013

The demand for quality assured beef and lamb, in the light of the horsemeat scandal, is forecast to remain strong for the next twelve months.  With supplies tight across Europe, prices are set to remain high and exports to rise.

Official forecasts for Welsh farm incomes show they are likely to decline significantly in 2013.  Dairy incomes could be down by 21% and livestock enterprises in the lowlands and Less Favoured Areas by 34% and 60% respectively.

The number of cases of Schmallenberg disease, across Great Britain, rose to 1,531 at the end of February, a 26% rise on January. The disease which mainly affected sheep and cattle, in the past, has now been found in goats and alpacas.  A vaccine has been produced and is awaiting approval and it is hoped that a natural immunity to the disease will be built up over the next couple of years.

Sugar beet growers have been complaining about the price they are paid by British Sugar and also processing delays and problems at the four processing plants.  Major investment plans are in hand for the plants in the run-up to the likely abolition of quotas in 2017.

Tractor thefts, which had continued to fall from a peak in 2010, have risen sharply in the last three months.  Thieves are targeting the more expensive machines a number of which have recently been recovered from Poland.

The latest statistics from DEFRA show that 1.8% of UK arable land is being used to produce various forms of bio-energy.  Production of vehicle fuel consumed 1.3m tonnes of oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet whilst 200,000 tonnes of straw (2% of production) went to fuel power stations.  The CLA has called for more clarity and support from the Government and power companies on the future of the renewable energy sector.

Despite farm incomes being depressed in 2012, many tenant farmers are facing demands for large increases in their rents.  The tenant farmers’ associations across Great Britain have evidence of increases of up to 50% being demanded.

Sales of ATVs fell by 13% in 2012 whilst the popularity of the UTV version increased. Sales of these “side by side” buggies rose by 18% to account for 43% of the market sector.