FarmWeb News 08/11/2013

A farming charity has said that the poor weather in 2012 and early 2013 has led to a significant increase in farm debt and calls to its helpline. With incomes being badly hit, many farmers extended their credit limits with banks and suppliers and are struggling to pay the debts off.

A report by the Food Standards Agency shows that British abattoirs have breached the BSE rules on a number of occasions. The main breaches relate to the failure to remove or properly handle the banned “specified risk material” which consists of the brain, spinal cord and other organs that may harbour BSE.

The NFU (E&W) has called for landowners and tenants to curb rent increases. It says that rents have been spiralling upwards in the last few years to the point where it is becoming difficult for tenants to cover their costs and get access to additional land.

The price of milk, paid to producers, rose to almost 33p/litre in September, a record high. The price represents a rise of 19% on 2012 and reflects the current buoyant market.

In the year to the end of August 2013, UK sheepmeat exports rose by 15% to 65,500 tonnes, half of which went to France and 10% to China. Exports to China have trebled in the last twelve months.

The pilot badger cull in Somerset has ended with an estimated 65% of badgers having been culled, against a target of 70%. The cull in Gloucestershire has been extended until 18th December in an effort to meet the target. DEFRA has indicated that the culls will be repeated next year with more areas added. National Trust members have voted not to ban badger culling on Trust farms. The Trust has said its own badger TB vaccination trial may be too difficult and costly to administer on a wide scale.

A survey from DEFRA shows that farm incomes, in England, fell across most sectors in the last twelve months due to poor weather, rising input costs and a 12% fall in the single payment following a strengthening of sterling against the euro. Livestock and dairy were the worst affected with falls of around 40%. Cereals fell 25% and general arable by 9%.

Consultation is underway on how the CAP reforms will be implemented in England. Proposals include 15% of funds being allocated to rural development and the subsidy payments to farmers on the uplands and moors being raised significantly. Funds totalling €27.6bn will be paid to the UK in the period 2014-2020. Scotland’s call for a rise in its 16% share has been rejected.