Farming Updates

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Arla Foods is to raise the price it pays milk producers again, the third price rise in the last three months. Meadow Foods, Dairy Crest, Muller and First Milk have also announced rises for November and December but producers still complain they are too small and are going up at “a snail’s pace”.

The first incident of sheep worrying by a drone has taken place on a farm in Hampshire.

The problems with the late delivery of Basic Payment Scheme funds continue in Scotland. To alleviate hardship the Scottish Government promised an interim loan scheme covering up to 80% of the money due. Payments under the loan scheme are now being made with 12,000 farmers receiving a share of £246m.

The UK fertiliser industry is expressing concern at what it calls new “draconian” EU rules proposing a reduction of cadmium in phosphate fertilisers to a level of one quarter of what the industry considers safe. The proposal will severely limit the availability of potential sources in a material already suffering a 15% price rise due to the weaker pound.

Suppliers to Waitrose are to source non-GM animal feed from Europe, a significant move away from an area of GM use, that has been welcomed by the Soil Association. Also, latest research shows that GM crops have not lived up to expectations in North America, where they are widely grown and yields have not outpaced those in Europe.

Sales of organic foods increased by 6%, overall, in the year to October 2016. Fruit and vegetables led the way with a 9.6% increase, according to the Soil Association. The rise comes despite recent falls in the acreage of land farmed organically.

The latest Defra figures on farm incomes, to March 2016, show an average fall in overall incomes of 21%. The livestock sectors fared badly with dairy down almost 50%. General arable incomes rose by 20% and a similar fall in cereals incomes was better than had been expected.

According to a recent poll 96% of the public think it important that the UK produces its own food and 74% believe that subsidising farmers to produce food and look after the environment should continue after Brexit. Currently, EU subsidies under the CAP are worth £3bn to UK farmers and these will continue until a new regime starts in 2020.