FarmWeb News 25/10/2012

The badger cull has been postponed until next summer.  The number of badgers in the two pilot areas is higher than originally expected and farmers could not be certain of culling the required percentage, in the time available, to make the pilot a success.  The NFU (E&W) requested the postponement and DEFRA agreed.  Meanwhile, stricter controls on TB testing and cattle movement are to be introduced on 1st January 2013 in an effort to minimise the spread of the disease.

Drilling of winter crops is being seriously affected in northern and western areas by the continuing heavy rainfall on saturated ground.  Planting conditions are described as the worst for thirty years and are likely to adversely impact on yields. Farmers thinking of sowing in spring, instead, may face a shortage of seed.

Public concern about large scale livestock units has led to the refusal of planning permission for a 1,000 cow dairy in Wales.  The local authority was originally in favour but withdrew permission after a review.  A farming industry think tank has highlighted the need to change public perceptions of large scale units.

A new set of rules covering anaerobic digestion plants will come into force in January together with a revised set of risk criteria.

Figures from a DEFRA survey show that the dairy herd has stabilised at 1.8m head after six years of decline.  Both sheep and pig numbers have increased by 1% but the latter are expected to decline again in the face of high feed costs.

Provisional figures show the full effect of the poor weather on the harvest, with wheat production down 13% to 13.3m tonnes.  Yields averaged 6.7 tonnes/hectare, the lowest since 1988.  Barley was unchanged at 5.5m tonnes with oilseed rape down 7% to 2.6m tonnes.  The UK is expected to become a net importer of wheat for the first time in ten years.

Tesco has confirmed that it will continue to carry the Red Tractor logo on its products after the announcement by Sainsbury’s that they were dropping it because of customer confusion.  Critics have suggested that the level of foreign produce sold by Sainsbury’s is a factor in their decision.

In July 2010, the Government announced its intention to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board and associated bodies.  It has now decided to consult all stakeholders on the matter.  The NFU (E&W) remains in favour of the abolition.