Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
23rd August 2023

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

Moo-ving out: the declining confidence of UK dairy farmers

 An NFU report released this week suggests that almost one-third of British dairy farmers (32%) are uncertain that they will continue in the sector, their confidence being undermined by insufficient returns, volatile markets and the scale of on-farm investment required.

600 dairy farmers were questioned in July and 9% believe they are likely to stop producing milk by 2025, and another 23% indicating their uncertainty that their business would continue to production beyond 2025.

Farmers greatest concerns, in descending order are, government regulation (87%), feed prices (84%), energy prices (83%) and cash flow and profitability (80%).

The NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes was quoted as saying:

“We are now facing a crisis of confidence among Britain’s dairy farmers. It’s vital we reverse this trend of boom or bust and invest in our supply chains.”


Corn under fire: maize varieties wilting as Mid-West heats up

The New Scientist has reported that due to rising temperatures in the American Mid-West, the growing of corn (maize) could be under threat, as it appears that years of breeding for high-yielding varieties has made the crop genetically more vulnerable to the hotter temperatures expected with climate change.

Patrick Schnable at Iowa State University was reported as saying “If you look at middle-of-the-road projections, corn yield goes down.” The most pessimistic forecasts indicate up to 50% yield reduction by 2100.

Schnable and the team at Iowa State University have reviewed growing data for around 500 varieties and found most tended to be more tolerant of temperatures between 32ºC-34ºC, but less tolerant of heat at 38ºC plus.

High temperatures may become common, and the thought is that the whole corn crop could be threatened by global warming, so some careful breeding is required to develop new heat tolerant varieties.

CS Mid Tier extension – the computer says “yes

FarmingUK reported the widely publicised news that application window for 2024 Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier agreements has been extended until 15 September following “feedback from farmers”.

DEFRA confirmed on Friday that the deadline was being extended to allow farmers more time to make online applications for the very popular mid-tier agreements following “some technical issues” experienced by a small number of farmers when submitting their applications, which have “now been resolved”.

Mid Tier is very popular with landowners. There are 26,000 agreements already in place across England for 2023, which is a 94% increase since 2020.

And tweet of the week…

Fantastic timing by Jack Sugg.