The Welsh Rural Affairs Committee has suggested that a new approach is needed to control TB in cattle. This should include a timetable for eradication, targeted badger culls and the division of the country into risk areas with separate rules on movement and trading. The numbers of new incidents, in both England and Wales have fallen in the last twelve months. However, the number of cattle slaughtered in the UK rose by 5.9% to 39,360.
The EU has re-licensed the widely-used herbicide, glyphosate, for ten years and not fifteen as recommended by its own food safety and chemicals agencies. This follows lengthy discussions on possible effects on human health. The EU decision that it is not carcinogenic has been backed by research in Canada.
Plans have been submitted for the construction of a major sugar beet processing plant near Harrogate. The plant will create up to 300 jobs and involve a supply chain of 3,500 farmers across the area. It will result in a return to sugar beet growing by local farmers who gave up the crop when the factory in nearby York closed some years ago.
Figures from NFU Mutual show that farm theft claims doubled in March 2017 to £1m, compared to 2016. Quad bikes, ATVs and high specification tractors are proving particularly attractive to thieves. Whilst a number of police forces have set up rural crime task forces, farming leaders are pressing the Government for a national initiative to combat the problem.
Organic farming statistics for 2016, just released, show a decline in organically farmed land of 3% to 508,000 hectares. However, on the positive side, demand for organic produce is rising and the amount of land undergoing conversion to fully organic increased for the second year running. Also, the number of producers and processors rose with poultry being the most popular sector.
The NFU (E&W) is suggesting that more farmers should be allowed to maintain local rivers to help reduce the risk of flooding and that such an arrangement would be more effective than the Environment Agency which currently has the responsibility. Five pilot schemes have been announced that will give farmers more say in river maintenance.
The Conservative manifesto contains a commitment to extend the current level of financial support for farming from 2020 to 2022, a move welcomed by farmers as an aid to long-term planning. Both Conservative and Labour have outlined a number of differing pledges to support and protect UK farming and the environment.
(Content provided by Farmweb)