Current News 11-05-18

  • Written by Andrew Davis
  • Posted on May 11, 2018
  • Articles

Farm Productivity Record

Farm productivity rose by 2.9% during 2017 to a record high according to the latest figures issued by Defra.  Output increased by 3.6%, inputs by 0.7%, giving the figure for improved productivity.  Total Income from Farming rose by £1,683 million to £5.7 billion, largely driven by a good harvest, volume up by 7.3% in 2017, but livestock output also rose.  Whilst the year-on-year rise is welcome, it comes in the context of over three decades of very low productivity improvement.

Defra Consultation

Defra received over 44,000 responses to its consultation paper ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’ by the deadline of the 8th May.  Civil servants now have the enviable task of analysing them all before the publication of the Agriculture Bill later in the year.  Meantime, in a poll by WWF, 91% of respondents want the Government to pay farmers to protect nature whilst 85% think there is less wildlife now than when they were children.

Forestry Thrives

Forestry owners have enjoyed average annual returns of 8% over the past decade according to Savills latest UK Forestry Spotlight.  Timber prices increased by 18% in 2017 with the total value of the market up by 24% to £112 million.  However, whilst new planting in Scotland is almost up to target, in England and Wales it is being held back by the high price of land and by the time and cost of applying for grant, especially if an environmental impact assessment is required.

CAP Budget Cut

Phil Hogan, the Irish EU Agricultural Commissioner, has outlined plans for the European Budget to run from 2021 to 2027.  In terms of the CAP budget, there will be a cut of 5% from the current level to around €365 billion even after allowing for the UK’s secession.  Indeed, the loss of the UK’s contribution is one of the causes of the cuts.  Pillar II funding for agri-environment and social schemes will be cut by around 15% to protect Pillar I direct payments, much to the annoyance of environmental and countryside campaigners.  The plans are in stark contrast to the UK where direct payments will be phased out and the funds transferred, at least in part, to augment the budget for nature conservation.