FarmWeb News 22/04/2013

Livestock farmers are complaining that the late spring has added to their production costs. Grass pasture is up to six weeks behind and most have to buy in extra forage to tide them over. For dairy farmers, this is adding 3-4p/litre to their costs.

The Scottish Government has allocated £22m to support cattle farming in the country. The Scottish Beef Scheme will aid 7,400 producers and is aimed to encourage the retention of livestock on the more difficult farming land by making direct payments to them based on the number of calves meeting Scheme rules. Payment rates are weighted towards the smaller producers.

The estimate of sheep, lambs and cattle that have perished in the snow storms has been doubled to 50,000. Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man were particularly badly hit. DEFRA has now joined the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in announcing financial help for the farmers affected as the cost of removal of animal carcasses is having a severe impact.

UK milk production, in the year ended March 2013, showed a fall of 3.6% on the previous year at 12.97bn litres. This is 2bn litres below quota and continues the trend of recent years. However, producers have again been warned that the abolition of quotas in 2015 is likely to lead to a rise in production and more volatile prices.   

The latest English farmland index shows a rise in value of 1.5% in the first quarter 2013, giving an annual rise of 4% and a ten year rise of 207%. Leading land agents predict the low sales volumes seen in 2012  will continue into 2013 because of strong commodity prices and a positive outlook for farming.

The UK pig herd has fallen to its lowest level since 1952. The herd declined by 2.4% last year to 4.2m. High feed prices and strong competition from Europe have forced UK producers out of business. Farmers who are part of a retailer led production chain have fared best.

Dairy farmers are now able to set up producer organisations (POs), under new EU rules, to market their milk more effectively. POs differ from existing co-ops in a number of ways including, they are more formal, regulated by the RPA and can apply for EU funding to set up.

MPs have finally voted to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board in England after several delays. The board will disappear on 1st October 2013. The move is criticised by unions but welcomed by employers.

DEFRA figures show that 3,215 cattle were slaughtered across the UK in January as a result of TB infection, a 24% rise on January 2012.