FarmWeb News 06/06/2012

Protests have begun at the site of a trial of GM wheat at Rothamstead Research. Protestors failed in their attempt to destroy the crop because of a heavy presence of police and security staff. The wheat, which is resistant to aphids, is being grown under strictly controlled conditions and is due to be harvested in September. The crop is now protected by a High Court order forbidding unauthorised access.

A judicial review of the decision to cull badgers will take place in the High Court on 25th & 26th June. The Badger Trust believes there are serious flaws in the Government proposals for the cull.

The fall in the cost of solar PV installations and changes to Government rules has led to a renewed interest in the technology. Installers are looking for suitable sites of 25-50 acres and farmers can expect a rent of up to £1,000/acre for a twenty five year contract. The NFU report that over 30% of farmers in England and Wales will be involved in renewable energy initiatives this year. Large projects are planned in Hampshire and Pembrokeshire.

Further consolidation in the dairy sector looks likely with the proposed merger of Milk Link and Arla Foods. The new company will be the largest milk processor in the UK controlling 27% of the market. Milk Link members should see their income rise by 2-3p/litre when the transition is complete. Arla is also merging with another milk co-operative in Germany making it the third largest processor there.

Farmers are being urged to consider the new pension rules now, even though most will not be affected until at least June 2015 under the phasing-in arrangements. Employers will need to set up pension schemes as the majority of farm workers will be covered by the rules, including casual and seasonal employees, within certain conditions.

All four existing Scottish agricultural colleges have formally agreed to merge and become the Scottish Rural University College. The new body will come into existence in August, in time for the autumn intake of students.

The CLA is concerned that the effects of the Energy Act 2011 will adversely affect farmers’ rental incomes. As from April 2018, all privately rented dwellings and business premises must be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard. The age and construction of many farm properties will make it prohibitively expensive to do so.