Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
13th September 2023

Here’s what caught our eyes and ears in the agri news from UK and further afield this week.

Howl’s it going: EU reconsiders wolf conservation amidst livestock tensions

The Guardian reports this month that the EU is rethinking the conservation status of wolves as numbers surge, along with attacks on livestock.

“The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans,” the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said. “I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary. Indeed, current EU legislation already enables them to do so.”

Von der Leyen has a particular interest in the subject after her pony, Dolly, was killed last September by a wolf in north-west Germany. Similar incidents across Europe have led to some farmers’ organisations calling for the right to shoot them.

Confusingly the same outlet ran an article by George Monbiot in August, calling for the reintroduction of apex predators, including the wolf, to the UK.

Quite rightly bemoaning successive governments failure to tackle the surge in deer numbers, Monbiot wrote: “Wolves may hunt by committee, but they begin with a consensus position that hunting should happen. They require no incentives or action plans, strategy documents or working groups. Lynx, as solitary hunters, don’t even need to discuss the issue.” And herein lies the problem our European cousins now face, apex predators are indiscriminate. Or maybe quite discerning, preferring a fat, juicy pony/ewe/calf in an enclosure, to the struggle of chasing a roe deer up a mountain side, in order to feed the pack!

Sour taste as BS and NFU fail to agree sugar price

Farmers Weekly reports on the failure of British Sugar and the NFU to agree a sugar price. Reports suggest that the offer for the 2024-25 crop, is lower than this year’s price of £40/t.

This is especially disappointing given the significant increases in European and world sugar prices. 

Michael Sly, the NFU Sugar board Chairman said “We believe the increased sugar value isn’t reflected in the terms currently offered by British Sugar and consider that if these terms were to be accepted, it would leave growers, and ultimately our industry, weaker in the long term.”

A farmer was quoted as saying that, if he could sell beet for £63/tone on the futures market why would he accept £37.50/tonne now!

If British Sugar want to make a commitment to UK farmers, they must be reconsidering their position. 

Farmaggedon: £500k in stolen machinery recovered

Finally, some good news from FarmingUK and others, as police recover over £500k of stolen farm machinery from two locations in Warwickshire. The kit found includes three tractors, two dumper trucks, three trailers, one 360 excavator, one Land Rover, one compact loader and one ATV.

Warwickshire police rural crime unit are quoted as saying “We have several people of interest assisting with the ongoing enquiries relating to the thefts. We will also be working closely with the National Rural Crime Team, to assist with any central investigation to bring offenders to justice.”

As reported here in Gleanings, and in AF Weekly in recent weeks, the cost of rural theft in the UK shot up by nearly a quarter last year. Highly organised gangs of criminals are stealing to order, often for Russian customers, as the current round of sanctions tighten.

Congratulations to Warwickshire constabulary, and hopefully this will be the first of many property recoveries.

Tweet of the week