FarmWeb News – 28/10/2019

The EU has confirmed the acceptance of the UK’s listed status application (“third country” status) which will allow the export of live animals, meat and dairy products to continue after Brexit. It confirms the UK has met EU standards on animal health and biosecurity but does not affect any tariff barriers that may be raised.

The provisional figure for the 2019 UK wheat harvest is 16.28m tonnes, a 20% increase on 2018 and in line with expectations. Barley production has risen by 25% to 8.18m tonnes, well ahead of forecasts, leaving around 2m tonnes available for export.

The milk market is quiet at the moment, First Milk and a few smaller dairy processors have announced slight reductions in the milk price they pay to producers for November. Saputo (formerly Dairy Crest) and others are holding current prices.

The milk processor, Muller, has highlighted problems with over-production in Scotland. Milk volumes have risen by 25% in the last five years significantly outstripping demand. Excess milk totalling 180m litres is being shipped to dairies in England, for sale. Muller say this situation is costly and not sustainable and is reviewing its operations in Scotland.

There are an estimated 8,820 dairy farmers in Great Britain according to the latest survey from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. The figure represents farmers actively contributing to GB national milk production and is almost 50% lower than the Defra estimate which includes herds of less than 10 animals. The number of producers continues to fall at the rate of one per week.

The UK farmland market continues to be quiet against a background of political and economic uncertainty. Only 83,000 acres have been publicly marketed in 2019, the lowest for 10 years and 40% less than 2018. A fall-off in demand has meant that prices have not moved much except for some local anomalies.

The UK apple harvest has been hit hard by a 20% shortage of foreign labour, with millions of apples left unpicked. The sector is worth £400m out of the £2bn fruit and vegetable industry with sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers also likely to be affected as they ripen for the Christmas trade.

The latest statistics on Scottish farming show cattle numbers down 2% to 27,600, the lowest since the 1950s. Sheep numbers are up by 1% at 82,700 and there is a similar rise in employees to 67,100.