The latest updates for the farming community
Defra has confirmed that farmers will continue to receive the current level of subsidy support until 2022, an additional two years beyond what was promised after the Brexit vote. However, farmers are being urged to use the time to review their business models and land management to reflect subsidies that are likely to focus more on the environment.
After several years of discussion and negotiation, agreement has been reached to widen the scope of access to the Canadian market for UK beef. Currently Canada imports 147,000 tonnes of beef of which the UK accounts for less than 1%. Exports will also start, soon, to the Philippines and resume to China for the first time since the BSE ban in 1996.
Plans for a new sugar beet processing factory to be built near Harrogate look to have fallen through. The scheme for a £350m plant was first proposed last year to process beet from 3,500 farmers, no such facility currently exists in Northern England. However, disagreements between the developers and North Yorks County Council have brought plans to a standstill.
The newly formed Food and Drink Sector Council has met for the first time to pursue its aims of boosting agricultural productivity and increasing industry skills. The Council includes stakeholders from all sectors of the £20bn UK food and drink industry.
The international dairy co-operative, Arla, has announced an investment of £72m in the UK this year, despite the continuing volatility in milk prices. The UK is the company’s biggest single market and the investment will see ten of its twelve sites upgraded.
The Government has said that superfast broadband is now available to 95% of premises in the UK but also admits that significant areas are still without a fast connection. Farming leaders point out that these are mainly rural areas and businesses are being held back by the deficiency. A recent global analysis of broadband speeds shows the UK in only 31st place.
More than 93% of farmers, in England, have now received their Basic Payment Scheme money. The Rural Payments Agency cites issues with EU rules as the barrier to clearing the remainder. Farmers who haven’t received their money by the end of March will be offered a bridging payment of 75%.
Dairy farmers have again raised the prospect of labour shortages, post Brexit. In some areas, non-UK workers account for over 20% of staff numbers many in skilled positions and employers fear they may not remain here.