Meat sales have plunged over the past year according to research results recently published. Consumption of beef fell by 4% and pork by 6.4% judging by sales by value in supermarkets, whilst sales of meat-free alternatives rose by 18%, poultry by 1.4% and fish by 1.2%. The number of vegans more than doubled to 600,000 over the past three years whilst 800,000 cut back on eating animal products during Veganuary in January of last year. Six months later more than half were still avoiding the same foods leading to a fall of 3.6 million animals consumed in that period. It is interesting to see consumption of pork decline more than beef as pigs are not ruminant animals and thus do not contribute to climate change in the same way as cattle.
Direct payments Guaranteed
The Government has announced that direct payments to farmers will continue in 2020 at the same rate as before despite the UK leaving the EU and thus the CAP. This has been a commitment for some time, including in the party’s manifesto, but farmers are pleased to hear it reiterated. The sum amounts to around £2.8 billion which will now be funded by HM Treasury and will be available for every year of this parliament. However, from 2021 the sum paid in direct payments will reduce as the money is redirected to fund other support programmes including the new Environmental Land Management Scheme.
Climate Change brings Visitors
Eight major temperature records in the UK have been set in the past decade, including the highest summer and winter temperatures that were recorded in 2019. This climate change has brought exotic visitors to our shores, some of which are very welcome such as egrets from Africa, long-tailed blue butterflies or Clifden nonpareil moths. Others are less welcome, the midges and other insects that bring viral diseases such as African swine fever and bluetongue or new pests affecting trees such as Chalara.
Oxford Farming Conference
The Oxford Farming Conference was held this week. With the title, Growing a Healthy Society, the theme addressed issues such as food provenance and ethical production. As usual, the Secretary of State for Defra, Theresa Villiers, gave the major political speech but there were some other interesting speakers such as Hugh Dimbleby who is leading the Government’s review of the food system. A full report will appear in my next column.