FarmWeb News 09/10/2012

One of the latest harvests in recent years is finally drawing to a close with only the last few acres of wheat in northern Scotland remaining to be cut.  Yields are down by up to 15% and quality has suffered, in many areas, due to the adverse weather.  World wheat prices have risen by 40% since May driven by poor harvests in the USA and Russia.

Production of an effective vaccine against bovine TB is still some years away despite over £38m being spent and committed since 1998.  The human vaccine BCG is the leading candidate for use and research continues.  Vaccination is banned under EU rules due to the difficulty in distinguishing between infected and vaccinated animals but a recently developed test may overcome this.  Vaccination is expected to be no more than 70% effective.

Pork prices in the EU are likely to remain strong for the next two years due to export demand, high stock prices and the ban on sow stalls.  The latter, together with rising feed costs, has driven producers out of the sector.  The EU sow herd has declined by almost 4% in the last year.

The proposed merger of four Scottish agricultural colleges has taken effect. Barony, Elmwood, Oatridge and the SAC have come together to form Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC).  The new college will provide food and agriculture courses for 8,000 students and a business consultancy for 12,500 clients.

The 2012 Single Farm Payment will be worth almost 8% less than last year following the announcement of the official conversion rate of the euro into sterling.

The new voluntary Code of Practice for Milk Production contracts has been agreed by all of the stakeholders.  The main points of the code being ancouraged are that 30 days notice of a change of price or terms must be given to the farmer and, the formation of producer groups in order to negotiate with processors.  Most existing contracts will need to be changed and progress will be reviewed in 12 months.  If the voluntary code does not work legislation is threatened.

There is concern amongst sheep farmers after DEFRA disclosed that the Schmallenberg virus has now been found on farms in Yorkshire and Northumberland. The disease, which is transmitted by midges, causes abortions and birth defects in lambs. It first spread to southern England from the Continent last year.