The Government is to invest £30m to plant 4 million new trees as they look to create 2000 hectares of new woodlands and place 200,000 ha into protected status.
The move will support existing landowners in their forestry work, and will create jobs and provide growth support for the forestry industry in the UK which already contributes around £230 million GVA ( figure from 2010, an increase of 52% since 2008)
Farmers affected by the poor weather and the squeeze by on farmgate prices, could face a huge drop in income this coming year, reports Farmers Weekly, quoting DEFRA research.
The figures make sobering reading and surely must be a catalyst for change – how can any business be expected to continue to produce at no profit? The wider public must surely look beyond cheap food, and supermarkets must look at a fairer profit distribution.
Commenting on the research, NFU chief economist Phil Bicknell, said:
“Wheat yield and quality were hit by the weather, while it’s been well documented that rising costs outstripped farmgate price changes for dairy and pork producers at times during the past year. More recently, we can add the plummeting lamb price to the list of challenges the industry faces.
“The weather caused chaos across the board and has laid bare the importance of CAP payments. With profits squeezed, a larger number of farmers will again be forced to rely on CAP’s direct payments to underpin their business in the year ahead.
“Falling farm income data shatters the myth that high commodity prices would mean high profits. Farmers cannot produce at little or no profit indefinitely; they need to turn a profit and they need to re-invest. The reality is that price volatility, low profitability and falling confidence does not provide a secure framework for a sustainable food industry. These figures should be a wake-up call for us all. Managing risk and volatility are key and that must be recognised by both the government in its CAP negotiations and in pricing decisions taken by the food chain.”
DEFRA, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to have its budget cut by up to 33% in the Comprehensive Spending Review:
Defra will reprioritise its spending, focusing tax payer’s money on British farming and food production; enhancing the environment and biodiversity; and supporting a green economy resilient to climate change.
The Department will manage its reductions by:
Maximising the use of matched European funding for the Rural Development Programme for England, enabling a £66m reduction in domestic contributions. This will allow environmental stewardship schemes to remain open to all farmers. Defra will prioritise schemes that will be most beneficial to the environment, increasing the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme by 80%.
DEFRA Secretary Hilary Benn has unveiled a Government blueprint for food policy that will present significant opportunities and challenges for farmers over the next two decades.
Launching the Government’s long-awaited ‘Food 2030’ strategy at the Oxford Farming Conference this morning (Tuesday, January 5), Mr Benn said things can no longer carry on as they are.
The way food is produced, consumed and disposed of will all have to change over the next 20 years in response to a future in which climate change, global demand for food and competition for natural resources all become increasingly important.
Peter Melchett, Policy Director at the Soil Association said:
“Whatever the court of appeal says, the fact is UK regulation of pesticide spraying does not take into account the safety of schools or families living next to sprayed fields. These residents are subject to repeated doses of chemical sprays. Before today’s judgement, the National Farmers Union had admitted that farmers will have to take more care of the wellbeing of their neighbours, whatever the courts decide. The best way farmers can do this is to move to farming systems that don’t require dangerous chemicals to produce our food.”
Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic opportunity for everyone, young and old to enjoy the living, vibrant countryside. Take time to listen to the birds, soak up the scenery, experience the smells of the farmyard and really get in touch with the land that feeds us. Discover at first hand what it means to be a farmer and taste the produce.
Each event will be unique with its own activities – based around the host farm’s own individual story. Activities during the day may include a farm walk, nature trail, tractor & trailer rides, pond dipping, activities for kids, mini farmers market or picnics.
The Final Programme of the current BBC Natural World series, ‘A Farm for the Future’ airs tonight
In what’s promising to be a fascinating look into the future of farming, wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.
With her father close to retirement, she returned to her family farm in Devon, but last year’s high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca, with many of her neighbours going bankrupt due to the price hike in everything from tractor diesel, contractors bills, animal feed and fertiliser.
Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is, and explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel.
In Northern Ireland, hundreds of farmers have queued for two days in the hope of receiving European Union farming subsidies, after their Department of Agriculture and Rural Development decided that this was the fairest way to distribute European Union grants.
As widely reported, the grants, which are aimed at modernising farming practices and equipment, were being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the funding package is worth just £6 million and is capped at £5,000 per application, only 1,200 farmers will benefit.