"Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and he can sleep ’til noon." Mark Twain
The uplift in cattle prices of recent weeks slowed in week ended 11th May read more
With more new season lambs entering the market, the dynamics of the trade have started to change read more
Provisional data for April milk deliveries of approximately 1,111m litres are 93m litres (7.7%) down on the previous year read more
In April, the DAPP averaged 160.9p/kg, almost 4p up on the month. At the same time, the average retail price came down by a small amount read more
The GB weekly average price fell by £7.68/t to £295.35/t and the free-buy average fell by £22.02/t to £368.39/t. read more
The first USDA estimates for world production in 2013-14 forecast record maize and wheat production, citing larger planted areas and a rebound in yields from the US (maize) and the Former Soviet Union (wheat) read more
The USDA has released its first soyabean supply and demand estimates for the new season read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Need for farming industry to become more profitable
Iona Walton talks to NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond about the changing
political landscape and the challenges for agriculture
The future of British farming hinges on the CAP post-2013, and time is of the essence. Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the NFU, is covering all bases before the UK general election through discussing the need to create a more vibrant and profitable agricultural industry in the UK with ministers from across the political spectrum.
A lot has changed in the past few years in the way policy makers view agriculture, according to Mr Raymond. Eighteen months ago people believed the farming industry could recoup its income from the marketplace, but we have since seen increased pressure on prices once again.
“Recent figures highlight a 4% reduction in farm income in 2009,” Mr Raymond says. “Politicians recognise the importance the CAP could play in taking control of the volatility of the marketplace, stabilising returns and enabling farmers to keep producing.”
Following the Lisbon treaty, the EU parliament will have greater influence in the fierce debate around EU budget, but Mr Raymond believes the NFU office in Brussels is well placed to further the interests of UK farmers.
Consultation with NFU members on the future of the CAP post-2013 has shown Mr Raymond and his colleagues that Pillar 1 support is hugely important if we are to increase productivity and improve competitiveness.
“We want to see simplification while bearing in mind market orientation and a boosting of production,” he says. “Volatility must be reduced. There should be no competitive disadvantage, nationalisation or co-financing: the CAP should allow the UK to compete on a level playing field. It’s likely we’ll begin to see a reduction in the SFP so it’s essential there are no trade distortions at this stage.”
Climate change and the messages from some non-government organisations have heightened the need to defend the livestock industry. Sensational messages suggesting the need to reduce livestock farming and the consumption of red meat and dairy products so as to combat global temperatures may sell newspapers, but do little else for the economy.
“If livestock farming was reduced in the UK, more meat would be imported from abroad which would have the same effect in terms of carbon emissions,” points out Mr Raymond.
Research looking at reducing emissions through growing alternative varieties of grass will come to fruition. Between 60-70% of land in the UK is grassland and well-managed upland areas look as they do because of grazing livestock. Farmers from these areas produce the breeding stock for commercial herds and flocks in lowland areas.
“Companies such as Vion recognise the UK as the place to grow cattle and sheep, as can be seen through its purchase of Grampian,” says Mr Raymond. “It’s time the media and some NGOs realised that reducing livestock farming would crush an industry that holds huge potential.”
Regarding bovine tuberculosis (bTB), Mr Raymond welcomes the Welsh Assembly’s decision to allow a pilot cull of badgers.
“It’s a national disgrace that we’re still culling 40,000 cattle a year in an attempt to control bTB,” he asserts. “I agree with [former government chief scientist] Prof David King that we need to take decisive action or the epidemic could end dairy farming in the UK.”
Although vaccination will have a big part to play, the livestock industry cannot wait for the oral vaccine to become available.
“I would never advocate culling all badgers, but we need to take out diseased badgers in hot-spot areas,” says Mr Raymond. “When the oral vaccine becomes available we can use it in clean areas.”
Achievements in recent years include promoting the value of the Red Tractor logo on £10bn of food sold in the UK every year.
“We’ve convinced stakeholders of the importance of UK agriculture and the need to feed nine billion people by 2050 has made the public listen,” Mr Raymond says. “There has finally been a recognition of the importance of farming and, most vitally, of productive agriculture.”
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