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- The first forecast of Total Income from Farming (TIFF) by Defra shows farm profits in 2020 fell by over 20% to £4.151bn compared with £5.278bn in 2019. Crop output, in monetary terms, is down 13% compared to 2019. Livestock output is forecast to rise slightly. We had been predicting a 10% drop, so the level of decrease comes as a bit of a surprise. However, the first Defra forecasts have a history of quite large revisions, so the figure could yet settle closer to our estimate (£4.7bn) when the ‘first estimate’ is published in May next year.
- The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) has published a new 5-year strategy (see https://ahdb.org.uk/strategy) and is asking ley-payers to comment on the proposals by the end of January. The AHDB will focus on two main areas. The first is assisting levy-payers on-farm. This will be through using data and analysis to help them make better decisions, investing in R & D and promoting knowledge exchange to get best-practice out onto farms. The second focus area is promoting produce – both in new markets abroad but also domestically.
- The RPA paid 95% of English farmers their 2020 BPS on 1st December. This equates to £1.671bn (up some 40% on the amount paid on the first day in 2019). The Agency also started paying Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship revenue payments for 2020. There will only be one payment under these schemes this year rather than split payments as in the past. The Welsh Government paid 94.6% (93.5% in 2019) of farm businesses either their full BPS or the BPS Support Payment (estimated 90%) during the first week of the 2020 payment window. This equates to over £219.3m being paid to more than 14,900 claimants.
- The Welsh Government has set out plans to replace the BPS with its Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS). However, those eager for scheme details still have to wait. The Agriculture (Wales) White Paper sets out the intentions for primary legislation and provides the basis of the Agriculture (Wales) Bill. The full White Paper can be found at https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2020-12/agriculture-wales-bill-white-paper.pdf. A consultation will run until 25th March 2021. The Agriculture (Wales) Bill is planned to be put before the Senedd in summer 2022. It will provide the framework for future policy with secondary legislation providing the detail. Included will be the provisions to establish Sustainable Land Management (SLM) as the ‘overarching principle’ for future agricultural policy. The proposal is to replace the BPS and Glastir with the Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS). However, the White Paper does not offer a time-line for this transition, but the Welsh Government has requested a ‘sunset’ clause, so legacy CAP schemes will end in 2024. No scheme details or payment rates have been included, but the aim is to make payments by ‘rewarding’ farmers for the delivery of outcomes rather than compensation for the costs of inputs. A Farm Sustainability Review will be required for each farm.
- The EU has extended the recognition of the UK’s organic standards and six organic certification bodies until the end of 2021. Without this approval, UK produce would not have been able to be sold in the EU as ‘organic’ after 31st December 2020. This is a short-term reprieve, so does not provide long-term certainty for UK organic exporters.
- The AHDB’s Early Bird cropping intentions survey shows the wheat area is forecast to bounce back by 28% to 1,815,000ha in 2021; similar to 2019 levels. Winter barley is also expected to increase by 24% to 394,000ha. OSR continues its decline by another 18% to 318,000ha, the smallest since 1986. The spring barley area is forecast to reduce back to more normal levels, by 30% to 767,000ha. The pulse area may rise by 7% to 257,000ha as growers switch from OSR.
- British Sugar now believes production this year will be 25% lower than last at 900,000 tonnes. It has also announced the one-year contract bonus has been triggered for 2019 and eligible growers should have received 2.6p/t in December from the processor.
- The AHDB’s first production estimate for this 2020 year’s potato harvest is 5.318mt, up 3.1% on 2019. Average yields were 46.2t/ha, the highest since 2017. The levy board is forecasting demand to be 4% higher in 2020 than 2019, with fresh sales outweighing the decline in out-of-home sales.
- The English and Welsh Governments have issued a consultation on banning the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening. The Governments are also consulting on wider proposals to improve animal welfare in transport. The consultation can be found at; https://consult.defra.gov.uk/transforming-farm-animal-health-and-welfare-team/improvements-to-animal-welfare-in-transport/ It closes on 28th January 2021.
This month’s Spotlight looks at the recently agreed UK-EU Post Brexit Trade Deal and Implications for UK Agriculture. Click Here for further information.
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