Farming Updates

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The Chancellor has promised that the current level of primary support under the CAP will be guaranteed until 2020 as part of the transition to new domestic arrangements, following the decision to leave the EU. Farming leaders have reacted positively at this injection of short-term certainty for the industry. The support is worth around £3bn per year and there are calls for it to be aimed more at smaller farms and away from large estates. The future of environmental schemes remains uncertain but a recent survey shows the public are keen for more emphasis to be placed on the environment.

Welsh farmers have, again, called on the Government to take decisive action to eradicate TB after the publication of the latest disease statistics. Whilst these show a fall in the numbers of new incidents and herds under movement restrictions, the actual number of animals slaughtered has risen by 37% in the last twelve months with Pembrokeshire suffering the highest increase.

With hedge cutting on arable land now banned until 1st September, contractors are complaining about lost time and income and have asked for it to revert to 1st August. The extension is to protect nesting birds and this has been called into question, the ban does not apply to hedge cutting on local amenities such as parks and golf courses.

A further study seems to confirm the link between neonicotinoids and the decline in the bee population. The study looked specifically at oilseed rape cropping patterns over the period from 1994 to 2011, the period spanning the introduction of the pesticide. The EU is to review the ban on neonicotinoids in 2017.

Five new areas are expected to be included in the badger cull when it re-starts this autumn. In addition to Gloucester and Somerset, the cull will extend to North and South Devon, North Cornwall, South Herefordshire and West Dorset. England has the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe and the cull is part of the 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease.

With the wheat harvest almost complete in Southern England, the quality is described as good and yields are close to the five-year average. Much of the crop in northern counties is still to be cut.