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Scandal of more milk price cuts
FARMING and agriculture are one of the few remaining bastions of British-owned business, as we have watched the lifeblood of our once world-leading industrial base drip away into foreign hands.
Gone are most of our manufacturers and engineering firms – even the service providers of water and electricity are under foreign control – and now, sadly, all bar one of our milk processors are mere subsidiaries of overseas companies.
From my perspective, having lived among and advised farmers all my life, this is a tragedy and a scandal that dairy farmers are forced to abide by the dictatorial decisions of milk processors whose only answer to difficult market conditions is to drop the farm gate price. I am not just asking for sympathy but that you understand how serious the situation has become:
•The cost of producing a litre of milk on the farm today is thought to be a little over 30p per litre.
• Back in March the average farm gate price in the UK was 28.6p per litre which is less than the EU average and the seventh lowest in the 15 member states.
• In April and May the processors had a round of cuts taking 2p off the price and last week Robert Wiseman Dairies sliced off another 1.7p per litre which leaves their standard contract at just 24.7p per litre as from August 1.
• This means that a small dairy farm with 100 cows would have lost £30,000-£50,000 of his annual income and this for an enterprise that demands 12-hour days and seven days a week.
• At the consumer end, Tesco is apparently giving cream away free and Asda is offering discounts on its dairy products.
The problem is that individual dairy farmers just do not have enough power to stand firm and they are more likely to sell up rather than protest. That is why I have had three phone calls in the past weeks to do just that.
Saddest of all is that milking 50- 100 cows with all the commitment that involves, has been a first step on the ladder for many a young farmer in past years and that is now gone. If you get the opportunity to make your views known at the supermarket payout, please do so.
Weather dictating grain market
Grain futures hit new highs at the time of writing with feed wheat heading over £170/T for November deliveries.
It is also interesting that contracts are also offered for next year, November 2013, at £160/T.
Weather continues to be the main driver of the market with recordbreaking heat across the US which has now unleashed fierce storms, but not before the combines have got rolling and gathered in 60 per cent of this year’s crop.
It would be great if the weather could be shared a bit more evenly around our planet as across the pond we have had a mere 119 hours of sunshine throughout June and more rain since the summer of 1860 which few of us will remember.
Crops look good but they are eating up expensive sprays needed to combat the diseases which thrive in the damp conditions.
For the grass and livestock farmer soggy silage is an option, but good hay will be as rare as hens teeth this year.
Schmallenberg vaccine announced>/h5> Briefly, the Schmallenberg virus hit this country last autumn being blown over with infected midges from Europe and since then 274 farms have reported
In adult cattle there are fairly brief moderate effects from the virus but for unborn or newly-born animals it is likely to be fatal.
Since isolating the virus last December, scientists have worked on producing a vaccine which they now say will be ready for distribution by the end of the year which is quite an amazing achievement.
I think the message is that livestock farmers just need to watch this space as Schmallenberg is still circulating in the south west of France this summer but we don’t yet know whether it will return across the channel again.
French ban OSR pesticide
The new French government has gone ahead with a ban on Cruiser OSR manufactured by Syngenta.
Apparently scientists have found during experiments that the chemical in Cruiser can have a harmful effect on bees.
Today’s ban only covers the Cruiser seed treatment, not the spray itself, and not yet in the UK.
Preferred site of new market
In the aftermath of the decision by the Secretary of State not to call in the Wentworth Street supermarket application, there is a lot of discussion behind the scenes as to how to progress the development plans for the whole of Malton and this includes relocating the livestock market.
The preferred site is out on the Pickering side of the bypass where the road network could best serve a vibrant agricultural centre.
Anyone wanting more information is welcome to talk to the directors of the Farmers Market Company. Please asked at the market office