- If you require advice from one of our consultants, do not hesitate to contact them by email or phone. If you do not have their details please contact the office on 01664 503200 or email [email protected]
- A reminder that the first round of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (the small-scale Farming Investment Fund (FIF)) closes on 7th January. In addition, the first theme of the larger scale scheme, the Farming Transformation Fund closes on 12th January for grants to fund Water Management. However, Defra has now published the manual for the second theme, Improving Farm Productivity. This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/about-the-improving-farm-productivity-grant. The focus for this round is robotic or autonomous equipment and systems to aid crop and livestock production and also the installation of slurry acidification equipment. The window to express an interest in this grant is due to open in mid-January. The manual has been published now to give potential applicants time to consider their proposals.
- Revised figures for Total Income from Farming (TIFF) for 2020 show total aggregate profits for farming were £5.121bn (real terms, 2020 prices). This is an 8% drop from This is much better than initially reported. The revision is largely down to farm diversification being less affected by Covid in 2020 than first estimated and the volume of seeds, fertilisers and sprays used in the year was lower than thought. We had been forecasting that 2021 TIFF would be higher than 2020. This is still the case, although the uplift in last year’s figures means the ‘rebound’ will be less pronounced. Even so, it seems possible that aggregate UK farm profits for this year could reach the £6bn level which is at the upper end of the range of the recent decade. With the large cost increases seen in recent months, it seems likely that 2022 will drop back again.
- The UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed in December. It is the first trade agreement negotiated independently by the UK in nearly 50 years and will set a precedent for other agreements. The UK farming sector, particularly grazing livestock and sugar beet will be more exposed to competitive pressure from Australian imports in the long-term. The deal will now go before both the UK and Australian Houses of Parliament for further scrutiny and ratification. It could come into force as soon as mid-2022, but the process might take longer.
- The Government has published a review of how secure the nation’s food supply is – the UK Food Security Report (UKFSR). The Agriculture Act requires such a review at least every three years and this is the first comprehensive study of the topic since the UK Food Security Assessment in 2010. As the report itself states, food security is ‘a complex and multi-faceted issue’. As such, the UKFSR does not come up with a simple answer such as ‘we are fine’ or ‘there’s a problem here’. It is arranged around five themes with broad conclusions drawn under each heading. The report runs to over 300 pages and presents a wide range of statistics plus case studies and qualitative analysis. Overall, however, it paints a picture of the UK’s food security being reasonably robust. For more details see – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/united-kingdom-food-security-report-2021.
- The English cross-compliance guidance for the 2022 scheme year has been published. It can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guide-to-cross-compliance-in-england-2022. In summary, there have been no changes for 2022 so the rules remain the same as in the past couple of years. The Welsh Government has also published its cross-compliance rules for 2022 (see https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-12/cross-compliance-verifiable-standards-2022.pdf). Again, these effectively show no change.
- The Bank of England raised UK Base Rates from 0.1% to 0.25% on the 16th December. This is in response to rapidly rising inflation with the year-on-year increase in prices accelerating from 3.1% in September to 5.1% in November (CPI measure). Even with the threat of the Omicron variant to economic activity, many economic forecasters are predicting further base rate increases in 2022 as inflation pressure continues. Rates of 1% by the end of 2022 look possible.
- The Government has confirmed exports of British lamb to the US will resume in 2022. The ‘Small Ruminants Rule’ which has been in place in the US for over 20 years, bans the imports of lamb from countries where scrapie has been identified. After extensive evaluations, the USDA has amended this rule, which effectively means UK processors will be able to ship lamb to the US as from next year. The amended rule came into force as from 3rd January and paves the way for Defra, DIT, and the UK food safety authorities to work with their counterparts in the US to complete the final steps. This will be a welcome boost to sheep farmers in the UK, the US market is forecast to be worth £37m over the first five years. The news comes after President Biden committed to lifting the ban on British lamb back in September.
- A reminder that the Future Farm Resilience Fund is now open. If you would like a one-to-one farm resilience review and report carried out by one of our consultants and access to online skills and training, including resilience planning webinars all for free get in touch with one of our consultants. Places are limited. More information can be found at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/ricardo-future-farming-resilience-fund-29430290977.
This month’s Spotlight looks at the latest figures for our Friesian Farm Model Click Here for further information.
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