2020 Harvest Statistics
Defra has revised downwards it’s final estimates for the 2020 harvest, resulting in a rise in prices. Wheat is put at 9.658 million tonnes, 40% lower than 2019 and the lowest production since 1981. This was partly due to the smaller area planted in the waterlogged autumn of 2019, down almost a quarter on the year before. More spring barley was planted, resulting in a total yield of a little over 8 million tonnes, above the five year average.
The Seasonal Workers Scheme, which allows temporary visas for overseas pickers and packers of fruit and vegetables, has been retained for 2021 and expanded. Launched as a pilot in 2019 to replace the old Seasonal Workers Scheme with 2,500 non-EU migrants, the number was increased to 10,000 for 2020 and now to 30,000 for this year.
Norfolk Hedge Stolen
In a somewhat bizarre story from Norfolk, it is reported that more than three hundred metres of hedge was stolen on 20th December. The hedge, comprising mixed species, had only been planted three weeks earlier. The plants were dug up by the roots and removed along with the plastic guards and supports.
Oxford Farming Conference
The Oxford Farming Conference was held this week but online rather than in the Examination Schools of the University. The main business was held on one day, Thursday, rather than over two days, but fringe meetings were still held on Wednesday afternoon. Secretary of State at Defra, George Eustice, was joined by his counterparts from the other UK administrations whilst there was also a session on trade. A full report will follow in this column in due course. The Real Oxford Farming Conference is also being held online from 7th to 13th January.