FarmWeb News 13/08/2013

The hot dry spell has brought the winter barley harvest forward with quality and yields said to be better than expected. The acreage of wheat to be harvested is the lowest since 2001.  Oilseed rape yields, so far, are 10% up on 2012. Early results across the country are variable.

The market in farm land returned to near normal in the second quarter of this year with over 50,000 acres changing hands in what is always the busiest period for sales. This compares with 35,000 acres last year. Large arable farms (over 750 acres) remain in very short supply.

With the start of harvest, the HSE is warning about the dangers of grain dust and its associated additives and contaminates when handling grains. The number of occupational asthma cases in agriculture is double the national average.

DEFRA has announced measures to help restrict the spread of TB from the badly affected south-west area. The new measures will apply from October 2013 to counties bordering TB areas and involve more testing and movement restrictions. The Welsh government is offering grants to farmers to vaccinate badgers in low risk areas.

The value of commercial forests of spruce, in northern England and Scotland has risen by 30% over the past two years. This continues the strong growth in value seen since 2000, driven by world demand. The UK imports 65% of its timber requirements.

It is estimated that rural theft cost £42m in 2012, a fall of over 19% on the previous year. Thefts of tractors and quad bikes fell by 32% and 17% respectively. Livestock thefts rose slightly. Tools, quad bikes and fuel were the most targeted items.

A Leicestershire farmer has been charged with manslaughter after a rambler was killed by a bull on a public footpath on his farm. The charge of manslaughter by gross negligence has been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Only 13 of the 27 EU member states, including the UK, have fully complied with the ban on sow stalls that came into effect in January. Infringement proceedings have been started against nine countries, including France and Germany.

Sales of farm machinery, in the first half of 2013, have fallen by 10% over 2012. Tractor sales have led the way being almost 20% down. The sales reflect the harsh winter and subsequent squeeze on incomes.