Farming Update – May 2019

The latest farm income forecasts for Wales show that average income is expected to fall by 15% to £29,500 for the year to March 2019. Dairy incomes are likely to be down by 23% and lowland sheep and cattle producers by 29%. The fall is due to pressure on farmgate prices and a significant increase in input costs caused by adverse weather conditions over the last twelve months.

Defra has initiated an urgent review of wild bird management licences following the decision by Natural England to revoke several of them at a critical time of the year for bird control. The move caused uproar in the farming community with Natural England seemingly having little idea of the consequences of the ban. Some restricted licences have since been issued and have been heavily criticised. It seems that Defra may be moving towards taking over the authority from Natural England.

Farming leaders are calling for the development of a UK-wide framework for agriculture post-Brexit. The framework should acknowledge the differing needs of the devolved areas of the UK whilst constraining policies that would disrupt the internal market and food chains. Farmers are increasingly concerned at the lack of clarity and progress on future farming policy.

The numbers of cattle in both the beef and dairy industries, in Scotland, have continued their ten-year decline. At the end of 2018 there were 1.66m beef and dairy cattle, a fall of 2% over the previous year. Producers have called for more government investment to reverse the decline.

In 2016 the Government closed off the solar power feed-in-tariff schemes effectively removing the major incentive for new investment. However, the solar power industry is urging farmers and landowner to consider the sector again. Since 2016, installation costs have fallen by a third and wholesale electricity prices have increased by 80% with more large companies seeking to buy green energy making the installations viable again.

Compensation paid by the Welsh Government for cattle slaughtered as a result of TB has risen by almost 24% to £14.5m in the last twelve months. New incidents are up by 5% and the number of cattle slaughtered by 12%. Farmers have blamed the rise on the failure of the eradication scheme.

Reproduced with kind permission from NIG FarmWeb