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Friday, 28 November 2014

Farming Matters

THE poor weather we’ve experienced in 2012 is about to really bite our farmers, and bite them hard I’m afraid.

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Andrew Pye

Our livestock and dairy farmers are beginning to experience problems with both the quantity and quality of forage made this year on farms – and with the continued high prices for purchased feed.

This year we’ve witnessed the wettest summer in more than a century, some of our farmers are having to take drastic steps to reduce stocking levels to deal with a lack of winter fodder. Any help to identify surplus forage will be useful to those farmers with low supplies.

For that reason the NFU is urging farmers who have seen forage yields hit by the poor weather this year to take advantage of its Fodder Bank scheme.

The service was launched over five years ago by the NFU and has been effective in both exceptionally wet and dry years.

The free online service is designed to help farmers with shortages and surpluses of cattle feed and bedding.

NFU members should log on to www.nfuonline.com/fodderbank for more information.

On a more positive note, Russia is to lift its ban on importing British beef and lamb. This is great news for the livestock industry in this area.

The change ends a 16-year restriction on exports of British beef and lamb to Russia following the 1996 BSE outbreak in the UK and has resulted from sustained lobbying by Eblex and Defra officials since the worldwide ban on beef was lifted in 2006.

It’s estimated that this change could be worth between £80m and £115m to the British livestock industry over the next three years. Beef exports are due to start from a small number of plants in the new year, while lamb exports are expected to start in April.

This is great news and a massive boost for our industry, again demonstrating that British produce is in demand on both home and export markets.

Russia is one of the largest global importers of beef and although there will still be a lot of work to do the potential demand for Cumbrian beef is huge. The work of our levy bodies and government departments in continuing to open up these export markets is vital and will go a long way towards ensuring a competitive and sustainable beef and lamb industry.

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