FarmWeb News – 23/07/2019

Following the decision by Natural England to revoke some wild bird management licences, at short notice, Defra assumed authority for them. The new licences issued by Defra have been confirmed as temporary. A broader review of the General Licences will take place in February 2020.

The EU is proposing to introduce movement testing for TB on all cattle that have not been tested in the previous six months as part of the new Animal Health Law. UK farming unions are opposed to the change claiming it will be of limited benefit.

The tractor market appears to have stabilised after two months of large year-on-year movements likely to have been caused by Brexit preparations. In the first half of the year 6,320 new tractors were registered, a fall of 3% on 2018.

The NFU (E&W) has highlighted the possible adverse effects of a no-deal Brexit for sheep farmers. With 40% of production exported to France the imposition of any tariff is seen as a major threat. Both leadership candidates have promised support for the agricultural industry.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board monitors the amount of British produce put on sale by the major supermarkets. The latest information relates to beef and lamb. Budgens, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose sell 100% British beef in all their stores, with Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda lagging behind. For lamb Morrisons, Co-op and Aldi are at 100% with M&S improving to 99%.

An all-party group of MPs has produced a report calling on the Government to raise the level of ethanol in road fuels from the current 5% to 10%. The introduction of this E10 petrol will improve emissions and be the equivalent of taking 700,000 cars off the road. In addition, it will support the £1bn bioethanol production industry currently struggling because of Government indecision.

An annual report on dairy costings discloses that larger herds, producing 0.5m – 5m litres, increased production by up to 5% last year, whereas smaller herds produced less milk. This trend has been evident for three years with larger herds better financed and less reliant on drought-affected summer grazing.

Export demand for UK soft fruit has risen consistently over the last five years. Last year broke records with a rise of 69% to £22.1m sold to 34 different countries with most going to the Netherland, Spain and Republic of Ireland.

A recent conference sought to encourage growers to go organic citing 40% lower costs, giving good margins. The UK is 30% self-sufficient in organic cereals which account for only 1.2% of UK production.