FarmWeb News 14/01/2013

Despite the fact that the Government referred to the Schmallenberg disease as “low impact”, losses have continued to rise.  The disease is present on over 900 farms across Great Britain with losses of up to 50% of lambs being reported.  No vaccine is available yet.

Mark Lynas, environmental campaigner and leading figure in the anti-GM movement has changed sides.  In a recent speech he apologised for attacking GM and now considers it has much to offer in securing world food supplies.

The poor wheat harvest has forced Hovis to abandon its “100% British wheat” pledge.  Up to one-third of its wheat supplies will now be imported from Europe.

A leading milk producer group has forecast that production costs will remain around 33p/litre for the foreseeable future with feed costs  unlikely to fall.  UK milk production fell in December to the lowest level for nine years.

Tractor sales, in the UK, fell by 1% last year compared to 2011.  Sales peaked in the first half of the year, boosted by higher profits and tax incentives but fell away significantly in the second half.

The Welsh Government is upset at the way that DEFRA has moved to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales and is considering setting up a Board solely for Wales.

One of the major producers of organic fruit and vegetables has voiced concern over the future of the sector.  Falling sales through supermarkets has led to a 25% decline in the market over the last four years leading to far fewer farmers considering entering the sector.

Farm borrowing rose by 9%, to £13.5bn, in the year to October 2012.  The rise was driven by a need for extra funds for both working capital, following poor sales and a greater investment particularly in renewable energy schemes.