FarmWeb News 08/09/2012

The latest Rural Growth Network, covering Devon and Somerset, has been launched by the Government with an investment of £2.9m.  The Network is forecast to create 1,100 new jobs and boost the local economy by £58m.

A world shortage of bacon and pork products is forecast because of soaring feed costs.  Both the USA and China are acting to support their pig industries as the expected poor harvest makes pig feed unaffordable for many producers.  Pig slaughterings are up 3% in the UK as producers seek to cut costs by de-stocking.

A barn and its contents of 800 tonnes of hay, in Surrey, were destroyed by fire caused by the spontaneous combustion of the damp hay bales, a relatively rare event these days.

Tight supplies and rising input costs are combining to push up the prices of dairy products.  Butter prices are up 5% and both cream and skimmed milk powder rose 10% in July/August.

The farm minister, Jim Paice, lost his job in the recent Government reshuffle and is replaced by Lib Dem MP David Heath.  Mr Paice was respected by farming leaders who have expressed surprise at the move which was not expected.  Caroline Spelman has also departed, replaced by Owen Paterson.

NFU has issued a check list for safer livestock handling as the time approaches for livestock to be moved indoors. The check list reinforces good practice in an area that has seen 81 deaths in the last decade.

Agricultural borrowings rose to an all time high of £12.8bn at the end of June, an increase of 6.5% on June 2011.  Farm deposits stood at £5.3bn.  Barclays Bank confirmed that borrowing terms were generally easier for farmers as banks remain committed to the sector in the long term.

The badger cull, originally timed for the Autumn, may be delayed by a combination of factors.  There are still legal and political challenges to be overcome and the ministerial changes at DEFRA together with the lateness of the farming season, this year, have cast doubts over the start date.