UK fruit and vegetable exports rose by 17% and 13%, respectively, last year to totals of £116m and £109m. However, they were dwarfed by imports of vegetables at £2.3bn and fruit at £3.6bn. Almost 60% of imported vegetables and salad crops came from Spain and the Netherlands. Imports of fruit came mainly from Spain (21%) and South Africa (11%).
There are calls for a core UK policy to be developed for subsidies, after Brexit. The aim is to stop any “subsidy war” breaking out between the devolved administrations resulting in undercutting in areas such as sheep and beef prices. Scottish politicians have already criticised the idea as limiting their authority amid growing tension with Westminster.
New legislation is to be introduced that will mean that tractors capable of speeds of more than 25 mph and used for commercial haulage will be subject to roadworthiness testing. The testing will apply to tractors used further than 15 miles from their base. Tractors taxed as “agricultural” will be exempt.
The money owed, by Scottish farmers, to banks has risen by 5% to £2,32bn over the last twelve months according to figures from the Scottish Government. This amount, which excludes hire purchase and leasing agreements, is the highest since records began in 1972. It is thought that delays in subsidy payments caused by long-running problems with the IT system are a factor.
Plans have been announced to restart the badger vaccination scheme, in spring 2018, in areas surrounding TB “hotspots”, together with a new advisory service for farmers. In addition, badger culling has been extended to a further eleven areas including parts of Wiltshire and Cheshire making a total of 21 cull areas.
Early results from the sugar beet harvest show both high yields and sugar content. The end of EU quotas, this year and higher prices led to a 33% increase in acreage. The four processing factories are expecting to handle a near record (1.45m tonnes) crop.
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