FarmWeb News 25/09/2012

A provisional badger control licence has been issued for the Gloucestershire trial pending the resolution of some outstanding details. The NFU is confident that the culling will start in mid-October, as planned. It needs to be completed before the start of the closed season for badger trapping and shooting on 1st December. Meanwhile, the EU Commission has criticised the Welsh decision to vaccinate instead of culling saying that there is no scientific evidence to support it.

Prices paid to farmers for milk are starting to move up again with increases announced by Wiseman, The Co-op, Tesco, Dairy Crest and First Milk on the back of lower production and rising input costs. The cheese maker, Wensleydale Creamery is also raising its price.

There are calls amongst EU members to extend sugar quotas until 2020 to give producers more time to invest in processing capacity. Quotas are due to end in 2015 but views are mixed on the ability of EU farmers to compete effectively in the world market.

The EU is proposing to limit the production of biofuel from food-based crops, such as wheat and oilseeds, to 5% of overall use. The move is in response to rising food costs and intense lobbying by opponents and is supported by UK poultry farming leaders. Others see the proposal as short sighted in the light of Europe’s dependency on imported fuels.

The NFU (E&W) has announced a new frost damage insurance scheme for sugar beet starting with the 2012/3 growing season. The scheme is underwritten by NFU Mutual and all beet contracted to British Sugar is automatically included. The cost of the insurance has been incorporated in the contract price for the season.

An investigation by the BBC shows that the wet summer has cost rural businesses over £1bn.  Poor quality and lower yields have cost farmers £600m and information from tourist bodies and the Caravan Club indicate a 12% fall in visitor numbers worth over £450m.  In addition, the CLA estimates losses of £240m from the cancellation of shows, events and festivals.

The first ever sale of pedigree Alpacas was recently held at Reading with thirty animals entered. The average price paid was almost £8,000 with two animals each fetching a top price of £10,500.

With the annual sheep sales now well underway, a strong market was in evidence, earlier this month, at a Texel sale in Carlisle. The top price for a ram was 14,000 guineas (£14,700) with several others breaking through the 10,000 guineas mark.