FarmWeb News 26/06/2012

The Government has announced the formation of the TB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG). The Group will comprise members from Government, farming, veterinary, scientific and conservation sectors. The Group will carry on and broaden the work of a similar predecessor group.

Difficult trading conditions have meant that 25% of UK poultry companies are trading at a loss, some for the second or third consecutive year. Tight margins and rising production costs are blamed.

NFU Mutual has disclosed a rise of 45% in thefts from farms in Scotland in 2011. The cost is estimated at £1.8m. In addition, livestock rustling increased by 165% to £250,000. Despite these rises, rural crime fell by 11% across the UK in 2011.

Returns from let farmland and rural properties rose by 15.9% in 2011, outstripping other investment sectors. Most of the gain (14.2%) was through capital growth. The sector is forecast to continue to perform well with a likely rise in the income side over its low 1.6% 2011 figure. Other sector returns last year were, bonds 15.6%, commercial property 7.8%, residential property 11.3% and equities 3.5%. Average land values, in Great Britain, increased by 3.9% in the first half of 2012.

Sugar beet growers are lobbying against the proposed reform of the CAP regime that will mean an end to quotas and an erosion of growers’ rights. The reform is scheduled for 2015 and is likely to lead to lower prices. The 3,500 growers in England produce under contract to British Sugar, their sole customer. A frost insurance scheme is being introduced to protect growers from losses by severe weather.

Discussions are going on between dairy farmers and Dairy UK, which represents the milk processors, on a voluntary code of practice on milk contracts. Processors have cut prices by up to 2p/litre this year on contracts that producers say they are unfairly locked into.

Minimum wages for farm workers are to rise by up to 2.8% following agreement between employers and unions at the recent Agricultural Wages Board negotiations. This is likely to be the last round of negotiations under the Board as it is scheduled to be disbanded as part of the Government drive to cut bureaucracy.

New tractor registrations increased by 5% in May, continuing the trend of recent months, giving a year to date increase of almost 11% over 2011.