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A leading think-tank has outlined the opportunities that exist for the UK, post Brexit, to take the lead in aligning a market orientated agricultural policy and subsidy policies with climate and environmental concerns. It sees little prospect of change in the EU agriculture model even though it absorbs 40% of the EU budget.

Figures from NFU Mutual show the cost of farm fires rose by 26% to £44m, last year. This year has seen a spate of large fires including 300 tonnes of woodchip, 700 bales of straw and an estimated £150,000 of straw in one of the largest ever fires. The east and south east of England are the worst affected areas.

Dairy farmers, across the EU, are insisting that their sector remains in a chronic poor state because the CAP has no mechanism to deal with damaging market breakdowns. Despite recent price rises, the market is subject to volatility and frequent crises with a deficit between production costs and prices averaging around 20% over the last five years.

Further talks on the future re-licensing of the weed killer, glyphosate, ended in disarray when EU member states were again unable to agree. The original proposal for a ten-year licence was reduced to five years but this has also met with opposition from France and others. Scientific evidence and a recent long-term study in the USA show no clear link between the chemical and cancer.

A new test for bovine TB is being trialled. The blood test detects live bacteria in the blood or milk and is faster, more specific and more sensitive than the existing skin test. The test can also distinguish between a vaccinated and infected animal with results produced in a matter of hours compared with the existing three-day wait, reducing the likely spread of the disease.

Defra has unveiled plans for consultations on a new independent watchdog to ensure that environmental standards are maintained, post Brexit. The move has been cautiously welcomed by farming and environment groups as leading to an agricultural regime that is more suitable and specific for the UK.

CCTV will become mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England next year following the results of a consultation paper. The law is likely to come into force in the spring and will require CCTV in all areas where live animals are present. The move is supported by vets and the industry.

UK milk production rose by 5.2% in September giving a year to date rise of 2.4%. Production across the EU is up 3.3% which is forecast to lead to downward pressure on prices. The UK is the third largest producer in the EU after Germany and France.



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