Cost of Rural Crime
The cost of rural crime rose to £54 million in 2019 according to the latest NFU Mutual annual report published last month. This is up 9% on the year and the highest level since 2011. For the second year running, it was the theft of agricultural vehicles, up by 25%, that drove the increase although livestock theft was also up by 9%. During the pandemic lockdown, it was smaller higher value equipment that was targeted, especially GPS and precision farming items.
Worst Harvest for Forty Years
According to the media headlines, the price of bread will soon rise following the worst harvest for 40 years. I suspect that means since the drought year of 1976, a harvest I remember well! Many farmers claim that yields are 40% lower than average and the quality of late cut crops has been severely compromised by recent heavy rains. Millers normally use around 85% of home-grown wheat for flour but imports will have to increase to cover the shortfall. That raises an interesting consequence if we leave the EU without a trade deal as the WTO tariff could add another £79 per tonne to imported wheat. Some millers have already raised the price of flour but speculation that the price of bread will soar is scare-mongering as flour only accounts for 11% of the total cost. At the time of writing, the feed wheat price has risen above £160 per tonne and milling wheat to £186 per tonne.
Review of Gamebird Release
Natural England has published its report ‘Ecological Consequences of Gamebird Releasing and Management on Lowland Shoots’. Contrary to some coverage, notably in the Daily Telegraph, the report does not condemn the release of game birds as damaging to the environment. In fact it says that a ban on shooting would result in a ‘decrease in beneficial effects’. The main conclusion is that best practice is beneficial for the environment whilst ‘poor or excessive’ game management increases the ‘damaging effects’.
The former BHS store in Banbury has been taken over as the home of Happerley England, an initiative to demonstrate the quality and value of locally produced food. The shop will include butchers, fishmongers, a delicatessen and farm shop along with a bakery and cheese counter to tell the story of ‘from field to fork’. Happerley, a farmer-founded not-for-profit organisation which validates provenance claims made in the food and drink industry, estimates that the new outlet will create 60 full and part time jobs. There are also plans for Happerley Scotland and Happerley Wales.