Clean Air Strategy
Secretary of State, Michael Gove, launched the Government’s Clean Air Strategy last week. Agriculture is one of industries that will face restrictions, particularly on ammonia emissions. Farming is responsible for 88% of ammonia in the atmosphere and farmers will be required to invest in equipment to reduce emissions. Environmental controls already apply to pig and poultry units and these will be extended to large dairy farms by 2025. There will also be further restriction on the use of organic and organic fertilisers, including slurry and farmyard manure.
Gove’s Green Watchdog
The Government is planning to set up a new watchdog to hold it to account and ensure that environmental standards are maintained and enhanced. Whilst the UK is a member of the EU, that role is filled by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice. However, the proposal has caused controversy as farmers and landowners complain of confusion and complexity whilst campaigners complain that the new body would be toothless. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee is holding an enquiry into the proposals.
More flexible CAP Reform
The Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament has voted by 32 votes to 5 with 6 abstentions for a motion to allow member states more flexibility to adapt farm policy to individual priorities. The Committee rejects renationalisation of farm policy and emphasises that there must be a set of common objectives, but member states should be able to design their own national strategies within the framework. The current CAP regime expires in 2020 and will be replaced by a reformed policy.
Soya Area Rises
The area sown to soya bean in this country has nearly doubled this spring, according to Soya UK, the firm that supplies the seed and buys back the harvested crop. It is estimated that the area is 3,200 hectares, up from 1,920 last year, following a good harvest in 2017 and strong prices. Yields are around 2.5 tonnes per hectare, worth £375 per tonne making it a profitable option. As a spring sown legume that fixes its own nitrogen, it can improve fertility and help control blackgrass. Britain imports the equivalent of 3 million tonnes of soya each year, 1 million tonnes of beans and 2 million tonnes of meal, largely for livestock feed.