Farming Updates

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The latest rural crime survey shows the cost has reached £42.5m per year. Thefts of quad bikes and equine equipment have reduced but livestock rustling in the South West and high-value tractor thefts in the East of England are a big problem.

A number of large supermarkets have said they will stop selling eggs from enriched cage systems by 2025 following the lead of Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and others who have already stopped. Around 40% of eggs currently come from caged birds, the egg market is worth £900m and the move to enriched cages, in 2012 cost producers around £400m.

The conversion of agricultural buildings into houses has been hit by a fall in funding for property developers. Banks have halved their lending to this sector over the past two years leading to a 25% fall in the number of projects.

Having reversed a proposed milk price cut to producers in July, Dairy Crest have now announced a price increase to them in September, due to improving market conditions. First Milk, a farmers owned co-operative, is also to pay more to members with price rises in August and September. However, producers who supply Muller are concerned that the decision to hold prices puts them further behind the market. There is evidence, from the USA, that global prices are starting to firm up and demand from China is rising again.

The Environmental Audit Commission have begun an enquiry into the effect of the Brexit vote on the natural environment. It is estimated that 80% of the UK environmental legislation comes from the EU and the Commission is calling for most of this to be retained.

The Treasury is currently reviewing rural development spending and whilst agri-environment scheme applications are being accepted no confirmations or contracts are being issued. The problem is that many of the schemes run for five years and there is concern over how these will be funded once the UK leaves the EU.

UK Farm borrowing rose by 6.4%, in the year ending June 2016, to a record £17.7bn. Borrowing has risen by 90% in the last ten years with land values rising 176%.

Sales of organic produce rose by 5% in the twelve months to June 2016 compared to a fall of almost 1% in non-organic sales. Independent retailers and box schemes have shown the biggest increases in business with organic meat proving most popular