FarmWeb News – 25/06/2013

The HSE has announced a number of Safety & Health Awareness Days for this year, as part of its ongoing programme. The days give free advice to farmers on how to avoid the common causes of accidents and ill health on farms. In the latest court case, a farmer was fined £120,000 following the death of a worker in a tractor with no cab or roll bar.

Farm borrowing rose by 10.5% to £13.7bn in the twelve months to March 2013. Poor weather conditions in the last two years have put severe pressure on the cash flows of many arable farms. Over the last five years farm borrowing has risen by 36%, in contrast to the wider commercial sector which shows a 21% reduction. The lending confirms the positive long term view of agriculture taken by the banks.

The DEFRA Secretary has called for the UK to embrace GM research pointing out that GM crops are widespread outside of the EU. Almost 85% of livestock and poultry feed in the EU contains GM product from imported ingredients. Industry leaders have backed his call.

A report from the Scottish Government shows that the total income from farming in 2012 fell by 15% to £635m. Scotland has 18% of UK cattle and 21% of sheep.

Farmers are in dispute with British Sugar over the contract price for the 2014 crop. Two difficult growing seasons have led to them rejecting the offered £30.67/tonne.

The Government has indicated that it will consider evidence to support lifting the ban on stubble burning. Farmers are complaining of herbicide resistant weeds being increasingly difficult to control. Stubble burning was banned in 1993.

The demise of the East of England Show is the latest evidence of falling attendances and rising costs.  Many shows have suffered financial losses in the last two years and it is inevitable that others will cease. Agricultural shows attract around 6m visitors each year.

A survey of rent reviews in 2012 shows rises of 23% – 44% across England & Wales and 18% average in Scotland.  The rises are higher than anticipated by most commentators and are down to both competition between farmers and some rents being long overdue for a review.

The Open Farm Sunday event, on 9th June, attracted over 200,000 visitors to the 365 host farms, a significant increase on last year. The event has now attracted over 1 million visitors since it started in 2005.