FarmWeb News – 28/11/2019

Agricultural insurers are giving more advice to farmers and landowners about fly-tipping having estimated that two-thirds of farmers are affected with over one million incidents reported in the last year. Local councils will not normally clear rubbish from private land, free of charge, but they may investigate and take enforcement action. The Environment Agency investigates larger incidents or where hazardous materials are present or there is a link to criminal activities.

The Welsh Government has announced that it will continue the present Basic Payment Scheme, unchanged, until 2021 and not 2020 as previously advised. The extension is subject to sufficient funding being made available by the UK Government and is driven by the continued uncertainty over Brexit and any subsequent deal. The Scottish Government is considering extending the Scheme for five years after Brexit.

The Basic Payments Scheme rates have been set for this year. Under CAP rules, the rate is initially set in euros and converted to sterling with payments starting in December. The conversion rate and thus the final total will be almost the same as last year. As an example, a lowland farm in England will get £228.56 per hectare, a rise of 0.3% on 2018.

A survey of the 2019 harvest shows that yields in the UK were higher for all the main crops. Winter and spring sown wheat and barley were between 4% and 23% higher than 2018 and exceeded the five-year averages. Oilseed rape yields rose by 1% and suffered from adverse weather and pest damage. Pressure on prices means net profits are unlikely to increase.

Under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme 2018, 2,500 people from outside the EU can work on UK farms on a temporary basis. There are moves to increase this to 10,000 in the light of a severe labour shortage in the soft fruit sector which has increased production by 130% in 20 years. The traditional labour supply from Eastern Europe has all but dried up.

The Milk Cost Production Survey shows a sharp fall in dairy farmers’ earnings in 2019. The dry summer hampered milk production and required extra feed to be bought in resulting in profits falling from 5.9p/litre to 2.69p/litre. Only a marginal improvement is forecast for this year.

The largest single grain shipment, this season, has left the Portbury grain terminal in Bristol. The shipment of 64,000 tonnes of feed barley is headed for Saudi Arabia which is the world’s biggest importer of barley.