Authorities are concerned that bird flu may return to the UK this year following a number of outbreaks in continental Europe. Over 50,000 birds have been culled in Bulgaria and the Netherlands and the disease has been found in wild birds on the migratory route from Germany to the UK.
A Bill to ban the live export of animals for slaughter has been put before Parliament and the sponsors are hopeful of gaining support for it. The bill would become law after Brexit as current EU trade rules prevent such a restriction. An attempt, in 1992 to introduce restrictions was overturned by the European Court.
The row over the weed killer, glyphosate, continues. The temporary eighteen-month licence expires at the end of the year and the proposal for a ten-year licence did not get enough support in the EU Council. A shorter licence period looks likely. Glyphosate is the most widely used weed killer and its use is backed by the UK and fifteen other countries.
With bank borrowing by Scottish farmers at a record high, the Scottish Government has launched a support scheme which offers up to 90% of the CAP entitlement as an advance on the actual payment, which will come later. The scheme is worth £254m and seeks to address the delays and errors in the much-criticised CAP payment system.
The Government has confirmed that the migration advisory committee is looking at the likely impact of Brexit on agriculture and the need to reinstate a seasonal agricultural workers scheme. Employers want a trial scheme introduced, now, to alleviate current labour shortages and head off a bigger problem after Brexit.
The Chancellor has been warned that any further increase in IPT would have a disproportionate adverse effect on rural dwellers who need their own transport. IPT has risen from 6% to 12% since 2005 and adds around £100 to the overall household insurance bill. For larger farming businesses with vehicles, machinery, buildings and stock, IPT can cost £1,000.
The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, a new independent body, was launched on 1st November with the two-year aim of helping to create a “safe, secure and sustainable” food system after the UK leaves the EU. Its initial report highlights some of the existing strengths and weaknesses of the current system. The UK is a net exporter of meat, a global leader in food manufacturing but over 50% of fruit and vegetables are imported and 90% is picked by EU-born workers.
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