Farming Updates

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Horticulture leaders have asked for urgent consideration of the issue of non-UK workers following Brexit. Whilst the whole sector is reliant on foreign seasonal workers it has been pointed out that many firms also rely on them in full-time roles and their continued presence is critical to the sector which, historically has been unable to recruit UK nationals.

The farming minister, George Eustice is promoting a positive message for the future of UK farming after we leave the EU, with a structure and policy that suits UK farming and the wider world markets it hopes to enter. The Crop Production Council has already suggested a more pragmatic, science-based approach to the use of chemicals, devoid of politics.

It is 25 years since the JCB Fastrac was first launched The tractor was revolutionary, at the time, with amongst other things, full suspension, truck-standard brakes and a 47mph road speed. The model range has been extended and improved over the years with versions produced for rail-side work and the American military.

UK milk production is 4m litres/day below what it was a year ago, a fall of 9%. The fall is attributed, mainly, to poor grass quality due to the weather, and a reduction in supplementary feeding as farmers seek to contain costs.

The plan to mine potash in the North York Moors came a step closer with the approval of a proposal to use the derelict steel works at Teesside docks to process the material. It will arrive at the docks via a 23-mile underground conveyor. The potash deposit is the largest in the world.

Proposals have been published to relax the import restrictions on British lamb into the United States. The move is a significant step towards opening up the US market to British lamb and beef and will be worth £35m to producers.

With a quarter of all milk produced in the UK processed into cheese it is an important product for dairy farmers. Latest figures show that UK sales volumes rose 4.7% in the first half of 2016 with exports up 7% and imports falling by up to 20% giving rise to a more positive outlook for UK farmers.

Half-year tractor statistics show an overall fall in sales of almost 10% continuing the decline that started early last year, with no sign of an upturn. Sales of higher power tractors have increased, at the expense of the mid-range.

The annual report from Defra shows that the budget cuts are taking effect with staff numbers falling by 4% to around 22,500. The budget is due to fall by a further 15% by 2020.