Greening Measures Dropped
Defra has announced that greening measures will be scrapped from next year. The three measures, crop diversity, ecological focus areas and permanent pasture, were introduced in the current CAP regime and failure to comply results in 30% of the Basic Payment withheld. The measures were much derided and have not been popular in the UK. EFAs were famously described as being neither ecological nor focused.
Hedgehog numbers have halved since 2007 according to a recent report that claims that a quarter of Britain’s native mammals are at ‘imminent risk of extinction’. However, suggestions that this is due to the removal of hedgerows is entirely false says the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The loss of hedgerows was stopped a decade earlier through legal protection and the length is now increasing thanks to Stewardship grants. The main cause of hedgehog death is badgers, the population of which has doubled since 1980 and yet this is rarely mentioned when the decline is discussed.
Defra Gene Editing Consultation
The Government has announced a consultation this autumn on precision breeding techniques. This covers issues such as gene editing and will consider UK legislation after we leave European Union restrictions. Defra Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble said that there was a strong case for taking such techniques out of the scope of GM regulation, repealing the ruling of the European Court of July 2018 classifying gene editing techniques as genetic modification.
As harvest progresses with most winter barley and oilseed rape cut and the combines now in winter wheat, fear about yields are being realised. Specific weighs are reasonably good but many crops died off rather than ripened as shown by the early date of harvest. The crops are very short, mostly below knee height, so there will be little straw although spring barley is yet to be cut. One grain trader reported yields down 10-15% for winter barley, 20% for rape and 10-25% for wheat.