FarmWeb News 04/04/2012

The drought situation in England has worsened with parts of Yorkshire now added to the official drought areas. Whilst cereal crops are not yet at risk, farmers will find it more difficult to get licences to irrigate other crops. The Environment Agency has formed a national group to tackle the issues.

The Tenant Farmers Association is one of a number of rural groups concerned at the new planning guidelines brought into force under the National Planning Policy Framework.  The Framework is intended to make planning permission easier to get and could lead to more industrial and residential development of farmland.

NFU Mutual has announced an underwriting profit of £105m in 2011 compared to a loss of £150m the previous year.  Overall income rose 6% to £1,273m with renewal retention remaining high at 94%.

Tesco is to cut the price it pays farmers for milk by 0.65p/litre next month.  The price is reviewed every six months and reflects the fluctuating cost of production. The reduction is due to the 25% fall in the price of feed over the last twelve months.

Farming and other land based industries have come together to promote a more positive image of the sector as a career choice.  Farming alone will require 6,000 new entrants each year over the next decade and is currently only attracting 70% of these.

Germany has joined the Netherlands in making Schmallenberg a notifiable disease as it continues to spread in both countries.  All cases must now be reported giving a more accurate picture of the disease.

Sow stalls will be banned throughout the EU from January 2013 bringing it into line with the UK where the ban was introduced in 1999.  However, over half of the EU countries are unlikely to comply with the new rules.

Exports of meat and meat products rose by 22% to £2.35bn in 2011.  Most exports go into Europe but new markets are opening up in Africa and the Far East.

A trial has begun, in England, on a GM variety of wheat that has been engineered to repel aphids thus reducing the amount of insecticide that would need to be applied.  GM trials are strictly licensed and controlled and protests are expected.