FarmWeb News 20/03/2013

As Easter approaches and the number of farm visits rise, farmers are being reminded of their responsibility to visitors and to follow industry guidelines to reduce the risk of infections.  Pregnant women are particularly at risk.

A petting farm, which attracted 2,000 visitors a day and was at the centre of an E-coli outbreak in 2009, has been found wholly liable for damages arising from the incident.  The farm had tried to argue shared liability with the local council and the Health Protection Agency but failed in the High Court.

The EU has announced plans to recover £357m from member states in financial penalties for mishandling CAP funds, over a period of years.  Auditors have found most states have mishandled funding in one or more areas.  The UK is the worst culprit with £88m having to be repaid.  Discussions on the reform of the CAP continue with the aim of having the new package completed by June.

Farmers are reporting that oilseed rape is three to four weeks behind where it should be due to the continuing poor weather.  With winter wheat plantings down by 25%, spring sowing is underway but hampered by the wet conditions and shortage of seed.  In March 2012, drought was the problem.

Whilst ruling that HS2 can go ahead, the High Court has said that compensation proposals were unfair and must be revisited.  The NFU (E&W) welcomes this decision as an opportunity to press for higher compensation for farms affected.

The latest figures from DEFRA show that the number of cattle slaughtered, in Wales, because of TB, rose by 15% to 9,307 in the last twelve months.  Farmers say this is evidence that the purely cattle based measures to control the disease are ineffective.

The inventor, Sir James Dyson has purchased 17,000 acres of farmland in Lincolnshire through his farming company, Beeswax Farming.  The purchase cost £150m and includes much of the Nocton Estate. The Estate was put up for sale when plans to establish the UK’s largest dairy unit were abandoned after objections by the public and the Environment Agency.

In a much improved performance the Rural Payments Agency paid over 98% of SFP claimants, in England, by mid-February.  This is the best performance by the much criticised Agency, exceeding both its own and EU targets.