FarmWeb News 24/07/2012

Two of England’s premier agricultural events have fallen victim to the poor weather. The Great Yorkshire Show was cancelled on the evening of the first day, due to the car parks becoming unusable, at a cost of £2m to the organisers. The CLA Game Fair scheduled for Belvoir Castle, Leicester has also been cancelled. The CLA estimates that £155m has been lost to the rural economy through the poor weather affecting shows and events so far this season

The High Court has dismissed an appeal by the Badger Trust against the DEFRA proposals for trial badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire in the autumn. The culls form part of the TB eradication programme.

The Government and the insurance industry are continuing to discuss ways to ensure that flood insurance remains affordable. The main issue is the subsidising of rates in high risk areas being unequal between companies because of varying exposures in such areas. The current “deal” between insurers and the Government, whereby flood insurance was maintained in high risk areas in return for improved flood defence, expires next year.

Anger amongst dairy farmers at the recently announced further round of price cuts from 1st August, has resulted in protests at shows and processing plants. In a deal brokered by the farm minister, processors and farming leaders have agreed a code of practice to cover their contractual relationship in future.  Essentially, 30 days notice of a price change will be given to farmers and they will then have the right to exit the contract after giving three months notice.

The National Audit office has refused to sign off DEFRA’s accounts, for the fourth year in a row.  Penalties totalling £46m were imposed by the EU for non-compliance with their rules in 2011/12 and £125m has been set aside for possible further penalties.  The Rural Payments Agency is also unable to quantify the value of over/under payments it has made to farmers under the single payment scheme.

The first crops of winter barley are being harvested across southern England during breaks in the weather. Yields are said to be reasonable but the moisture content is high at 21-24%, resulting in higher drying costs.

Proposals for the reform of the CAP were criticised as being too complicated, when they were published in October 2011. The various national agencies responsible for making the payments have now lent their support to the criticism by saying that the proposals would take up to two years to implement, pushing them way past the required 2014 start date.