The latest updates for the farming community
The repercussions from the recent decision to re-license the weed killer, glyphosate, continue. The EU parliament is to set up a special committee to review authorisation procedures generally and the glyphosate case in particular. The committee will also consider if the relevant EU agencies are adequately funded and staffed.
The market report for 2017 from the Soil Association shows a sixth year of steady growth of the organic farming sector. The market grew 6% to a new high of £2.2bn and now accounts for 1.5% of the total UK food and drink market. The acreage of farmland being converted to organic is rising after a long-term decline. Arla and other milk processors are looking to increase their production of organic milk as they forecast an expanding market.
The latest survey of the rural land market shows that prices averaged £10,260 an acre during the second half of 2017. This is slightly higher than the first half of the year but 2% down on the same period in 2016. Since the Brexit vote both supply and demand have been subdued and this is expected to continue throughout 2018 with prices stabilising.
EU wheat exports have fallen by over 16% to their lowest level for five seasons. The main factors are the current strength of the euro and strong competition from Black Sea countries. Russia has undercut its EU competitors by 8% on recent international deals. The availability of more stocks in Europe is likely to limit price rises in the UK.
UK dairy sales increased by 4.5% to £10.7bn in 2017. Milk sales rose by 4% to £3.28bn and cheese by 3.5% to £2.8bn. Exports of cheese grew by 3%. However, rising input costs and increased production from Germany, France, Ireland and Poland is likely to put the sector under pressure over the next twelve months.
A bumper sugar beet harvest with record average yields has caused problems. The crop is processed at the four British Sugar factories but a slow start to the campaign and issues with equipment has led to a backlog and complaints from growers that the crop is being left too long on farms and is likely to deteriorate.
UK exports of beef, lamb, pork and offal products exceeded £1.2bn in 2017. Beef sales rose 11% to £409m with strong growth in Asian markets.
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