FarmWeb News – 28/02/2019

Agricultural Insurers are urging farmers to support the Red Tractor assurance scheme post-Brexit as a guarantee of quality and welfare standards. There is a need to protect the UK market against imports of goods that are sub-standard in terms of quality and welfare. There is concern about competition from the USA which is at odds with the UK on the use of GM, antibiotics and chemical sprays. Defra has said that a “zero-tariff” regime on food imports will not happen and protection for the industry will continue.

The UK organic produce market grew by 5.3% in 2018 to a record level of £2.33bn, accounting for over 1.5% of the total market. The results mark the seventh consecutive year of growth after some years of stagnation. However, the UK market lags behind other European countries where organic accounts for up to 10% of the market.

The British Veterinary Association is lobbying for improvements to animal welfare before, during and after movement. Animals should be slaughtered as close as possible to their home farm with mobile abattoirs servicing remote areas. Animals should not be exported to countries where the welfare standards are unknown or where they are lower than the UK.

An insurance product has been launched that offers farmers the opportunity to insure against financial loss caused by a fall in the price of major commodities or a rise in the cost of some inputs. The cover, called Stable, is placed at Lloyds.

Defra has issued guidance on the changes that are likely to occur to animal imports and exports in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The UK will become a “third country” and export health certificates will be needed. Defra is confident that the system will be in place before Brexit. The arrangements are of real concern to the sheep industry with around 30% of production exported, over 90% to EU countries.

Milk volumes in several European countries are lower than last year which has led to the market being relatively stable in the first part of this year. Against this background, Arla has announced that prices to its producers will remain unchanged for March.

There is a proposal in the Agriculture Bill for the phasing out of the direct Basic Payment, for it to be de-linked from the requirement to farm the land and for landowners to take the money as a one-off cash sum. Preliminary figures suggest the payment could be up to three times the annual amount, but further details are needed from Defra.