FarmWeb News 08/04/2013

The debate on neonicotinoid pesticides continues with the EU decision to defer the ban on their use for two years.  The pesticides are claimed to harm bees but conflicting evidence has been put forward for and against their use.  They account for 24% of the pesticide market so form an important means of controlling pests.

The NFU (E&W) has predicted that the UK will become a net importer of wheat for the first time in a decade.  Poor weather conditions led to a 14% fall in yields last year and a 25% fall in the area planted for the current season.

More than 25,000 sheep, lambs and cattle are believed to have perished in the cold March weather.  This has led to financial problems for farmers in the collection and disposal of the carcasses.

Depressed ethanol demand and prices together with a shortage of supplies of UK wheat has forced the Ensus bioethanol plant, on Teesside, to suspend production for the third time since it opened in 2010.  The plant is the largest in Europe, consuming 1.2m tonnes of wheat per year.

More than 900 hill farmers, in England, have shared £2m in subsidy under the Uplands Transitional Payment scheme.  The scheme replaces the Hill Farm Allowance for those farmers unable to benefit from the Uplands Stewardship Scheme.

Researchers are making good progress in the production of a new synthetic vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease.  The vaccine, a major breakthrough, will be much safer than current products and should be available in two years.

A campaign by the National Pig Association (NPA) has led to Britain’s leading food firms signing up to a pledge of total traceability on pig meat products.  The NPA remains concerned that many producers on the Continent are not adhering to the ban on sow stalls resulting in lower cost, illegal produce entering the UK market.

Cornish Mutual has announced an increase in premium income of 9% to £19.2m for the year ended 30th September 2012.  Profits, after tax, also increased to almost £2.1m.