A Scottish Office minister has reiterated the Government pledge to maintain EU level farm subsidies until the end of the current parliament. He also said that there will be huge opportunities to grow more, sell more and export more British food after Brexit. British cheese exports rose to 40,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2017 with strong worldwide promotional activity taking place.
Provisional data from the Health and Safety Executive shows that 137 workers were fatally injured in the twelve months to March 2017. Agriculture remains a dangerous occupation with 27 fatalities and an estimated 15,000 non-fatal workplace injuries. The sector is second only to the construction industry with 43 fatalities.
Anaerobic digestion plants continue to increase capacity and can now produce enough energy to power over one million homes. However, delays in passing legislation and uncertainty over future government policy are hampering further expansion. There are over 400 plants in the planning stage but few are likely to proceed without clearer government support.
France is set to go ahead with a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides from 2018 despite the current partial ban still being under consideration by the EU. A recent industry funded study across the UK, Germany and Hungary seemed to prove that the pesticide had an adverse effect on bees but the results are being questioned by both farmers and major chemical manufacturers.
In an effort to eradicate BSE, the use of animal protein in livestock feed was banned, across the EU in 2001. Since then, there have been continuing isolated cases of the disease. The EU has initiated research to ascertain the causes with imported contaminated feed being suspected.
Morrisons has pledged to stock only British fresh meat in its stores. This will be a boost for sheep farmers with Morrisons purchasing around 750,000 lambs each year, many of which came from Australia and New Zealand.
The number of dairy herds, in Scotland, fell by 33 to 924 in the first half of 2017. Despite this, the number of dairy cattle rose slightly to almost 176,000 resulting in an average herd size of 191, the highest since records began.
Natural England, which licensed the recent badger culls, has been ordered to release the results of the impact assessment. It had previously refused to do so citing concerns over the safety of the landowners involved. Failure to comply may lead to High Court intervention.
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