FarmWeb News – 26/09/2019

A Government sponsored independent review on support funding has recommended changes to make payment rates more equal over the next two years. The new rates will favour those in upland areas particularly in Wales and Scotland and the Government has allocated £56m in new money to support the review.

Austria has rejected the proposal for a free trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, a trading bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The deal was negotiated after 20 years of discussions and needs the agreement of all EU states. Mercosur currently exports 20% of its food and drink output to EU members.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has expressed concern over a steep rise in the number of farm buildings converted to dwellings, without planning permission. Current regulations allow conversion into up to five new homes but the LGA says that no regard is paid to local infrastructure needs and is calling for the regulations to be scrapped.

The latest industry estimate puts British milk volumes at 12.58bn litres, slightly up on the previous estimate and a 29-year high point. The rise in production is a result of good weather and good pasture boosted by concentrates fed during the winter period.

The hot, dry conditions in 2018 saw the cost of farm fires rise by 27.5% to £46.4m, the highest total for four years. The east of England was the worst affected region at £11.1m, a rise of 225%. Scotland and the South-West were also badly affected at £7.6m and £7.2m respectively. Electrical faults accounted for 37% of fires and arson 20%.

Defra has announced the creation of 11 new badger culling areas and the re-licensing of the existing 29, taking the total to 40. The new areas are principally in the Midlands and South-West. After four years of culls, the incidence of TB in Somerset has fallen from 24% to 12% and in Gloucestershire from 10.4% to 5.6%. The number of cattle slaughtered, in Wales, increased by 21% to 12,000 in the twelve months to May 2019.

The Agriculture Bill, in its current form has been shelved since completing its committee stage in November 2018. This means that a new version will need to appear in the next Queen’s speech in order to complete its passage. Farm leaders are concerned that this delay will impact on the proposed farm support programme, post-Brexit