With the current TB eradication programme coming to an end, the Welsh Government is formulating a new plan based on establishing “Low, Intermediate and High TB incidence areas”, across the country. A badger cull is not part of the plan but trapping and destroying infected badgers may be considered. Whilst badger vaccination is still under consideration, there is no prospect of the vaccine being available in 2017. The response of farmers is mixed with some anger that the proposals do not go far enough.
The latest farmers’ survey of rentals for mobile phone masts shows an average annual rent of £6,029 compared to a figure of £7,506 claimed by the mast operators. Farmers are being urged to negotiate new agreements before revised rules come into force, next year, as part of the Digital Economy Bill, currently going through Parliament, which will see payments drastically reduced.
A pro-free-market discussion paper concludes that BrExit will lead to cheaper food as UK farmers avoid further costly agricultural regulations. It argues that compliance costs in the areas of animal welfare, food standards and the environment continue to rise disproportionate to consumer wishes. Official figures show current compliance costs exceed £600m.
Another dry week has allowed winter cereal drilling to proceed at a pace. Most areas of England are almost complete with some concern in eastern counties at the lack of moisture.
It has been announced that the new Scottish Land Commission, the various commissioners and support staff will be based in Inverness. The Commission which will review land law and policy, was created by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
International markets in the dairy sector continue to strengthen with both butter and cream prices having doubled this year. Wholesale market milk prices have risen to around 29p/litre but with most UK farmers receiving less than 23p/litre milk buyers are being accused of failing to pass on the price rises.
There is optimism that sugar beet has a long-term future after two years of price and acreage cuts. There are plans to increase the 2017 acreage to take advantage of more favourable markets.