FarmWeb News 22/02/2012

The Environment Agency has warned that the continuing drought conditions will adversely affect the availability of water for crop irrigation later in the year. The east and south of England are worst affected with restrictions on water abstraction licences already in force. The south-east has been declared a drought area by DEFRA.

The Farming Minister has suggested that the RPA has performed much better at making Single Farm Payments than in any previous year.  He has announced a series of initiatives over the next five years to improve both service to customers and value for taxpayer’s money.

The high prices available for sheep meat on export markets led to the UK becoming a net importer in 2011, for the first time in 17 years.  Exports totalled 98,000t compared with imports of 88,000t.  Retail prices have risen 13% in the last few months leading to a fall in consumption of 15%.  Supplies remain tight across Europe.

A Limousin bull has sold for a record £126,000 at a recent livestock sale in Penrith.  The previous record was £105,000 and the sale is evidence of the buoyant state of the pedigree market.  In addition, the market for store cattle and calves continues to strengthen following rises in the latter part of 2011.

Farmright, the West Country milk processor has gone into administration leaving debts with its 80 farmer suppliers and Dairy Crest.  The move is indicative of industry worries over the finances and cash flow of milk processors and more rationalisation seems likely.  The Farming Minister has called for more effort from the dairy industry to increase production to reduce the current level of dairy product imports.

A recent analysis of road accidents shows rural roads to be more dangerous than urban ones, particularly for young male drivers.  The greater speeds and higher mileages travelled by rural dwellers leave drivers 37% more likely to have an accident.  The same factors mean that rural accidents have, historically, been more severe.

European farm leaders have called on the EU to ensure that the proposed reforms to the CAP are aimed at increasing food production and not hindering it.  They consider that some of the environmental proposals will make it more difficult for farmers to achieve the required production levels.