FarmWeb News 19/04/2012

Dairy Crest is to lose the contract to supply Tesco with liquid milk in July when it falls due for renewal. Supplies will be sourced from Arla and Robert Wiseman instead. Dairy Crest is to close two bottling plants and transfer the work elsewhere in a cost-cutting exercise.

The RSPB has taken on the tenancy of a 500ha upland sheep farm in the Lake District.  The project aims to “integrate hill farming with habitat restoration and improve drinking water quality”.  Nearby Haweswater is the main source of water for North West England.  The RSPB already has a lowland farm in Cambridgeshire.

The Government and the dairy sector have come together to launch Dairy 2020, a new initiative aimed at producing an integrated strategy to make the UK industry the most sustainable in the world.  It is also hoped that it will address the annual dairy trade deficit of £1.2bn.  Milk production for year ending March 2012 rose by 1.4% to the highest level since 2006/7.

A serious outbreak of TB in West Lothian, Scotland has led to the slaughter of 60 infected animals.  The cause of the outbreak is a mystery because the herd is closed with no new animals introduced for over 20 years.  The incidence of TB in Scotland remains very low with 6 cases in 2010 compared to 433 in Wales and 2025 in England.

Natural England has scrapped its 50 year plan for hill farming which leant more towards environmental management than food production.  The move has been welcomed by farming leaders, the agency has been told by government to work more effectively with farmers and rural communities.

Farm rents increased by an average of 25% across Great Britain in the year ending October 2011.  Eastern England showed the highest rise of 32%. Increases over the last three years have added £3,500 to the cost of an average size farm.