News from the farming market – October 2017

The HSE is targeting potato growers during the current harvest. Inspectors are visiting producers, across the country to do inspections and offer advice. There is concern at the HSE that the risks of the harvest are not being properly managed, putting operators in danger.

The provisional figure for the UK wheat harvest is 15.2m tonnes, a rise of 5.4% on 2016. For barley, the figure is 7.4m tonnes, a rise of 10.6%.

The Government has outlined its intention to retain the UK’s current high standards of animal welfare. The move is to avoid farmers being undermined by cheaper imports from countries producing to lower welfare standards after Brexit. However, maintaining high standards may not be compatible with the Government’s desire to be a world leader in free trade.

Beef and lamb exports, from Scotland, rose in value by 9% to over £80m, in the twelve months ending August 2017. Almost 89% of exports are to EU countries with France and Italy the biggest customers. However, the main growth in exports was into other markets in the far east.

The Knight Frank Farmland Index shows the average value, in England and Wales, static at £7,310 per acre at the end of the third quarter 2017. This halts the steady decline seen over the past 18 months. Despite the average price having fallen by 12% over the last two years, farmland remains a good investment with values up 83% in ten years. With a housing density of 12 per acre, land with development permission is worth up to £1m per acre in sought-after areas.

The Rural Payments Agency is to carry out additional checks on subsidy claimants who have less than 36 hectares of land. The claimant will be asked to supply an accountant’s certificate to prove their eligibility for payment under the Basic Payments Scheme, the so called “active farmer” rule.

Looking beyond Brexit, informal talks have taken place with the USA on differing food standards and future trade especially the opportunity for lamb exports. Currently the UK exports 38% of sheep meat, mostly to the EU. Also, a record number of British meat exporters attended the world’s largest food trade fair earlier this month.

Reproduced with kind permission from NIG FarmWeb