Gleanings - AF Weekly news summary
4th October

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


Bluetongue risk

FarmingUk warns of the risk to UK sheep from a bluetongue outbreak in the Netherlands. The first outbreak in Holland since 2009 has been found at four farms, but up to 600 farms may now be contaminated with the disease. Vets and farmers have reported ‘severe illness’ in sheep, symptoms have included high fever and lesions around the udder, face and mouth.

Whilst bluetongue affects all ruminants and camelids, it does not affect humans. There are no food safety issues, however it will impact affected livestock severely, including causing a drop in milk yield for dairy cattle.

The AHDB have issued a warning: “The bluetongue virus is spread by wind dispersal of infected biting midges and through the import of affected animals, their germplasm (sperm and eggs) and foetuses.

“Sheep are more likely to show clinical signs of bluetongue than cattle or goats. Some animals may show no clinical signs – these animals pose a risk for spreading the disease to new areas and countries.

“If you are importing livestock, sperm or eggs, speak to your vet before deciding to import them and ensure you are following the latest guidance and legislation.”


Species decline continuing

AgriTrade News reports on the latest State of Nature report by the State of Nature Partnership. They have partnered with 60 organisations to compile the first report post-Covid. They claim a 19% average decline in all UK species since 1970. Also that extinction threatens 16% of species and that invertebrates are found in 13% fewer locations. Worryingly, pollinators have decreased by 18% and predatory insects by 34%.

They conclude that agriculture has contributed to the declines, but that well designed agri-environment schemes can benefit nature, which makes the new SFI actions even more important. The ELM scheme is positive for farmers and the environment. If it can be competently implemented, and farmers encouraged with simple administration and timely payments, uptake should be strong. Then maybe we will make strides in reversing species losses.


New free to use IPM tool

Farmers Guide shared the news that there is a new, free to use IPM (Integrated Pest Management) tool, which has been developed by ADAS, SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) and NFU. This is timely news, as one of the SFI actions is to “Assess IPM and produce a plan” which is worth £989 per year.

The new tool considers all the main arable and horticultural crops. We have tried it and it really is simple to use, and there is a very helpful 10 minute video to talk you through the process of setting up the form and filling out the required information. It has information on suitable methods for controlling relevant pests, weeds, and diseases, and is designed to make it straightforward for farmers to deliver the IPM SFI action.


On the money

The Knowledge shared a report in The Atlantic that the rise of frequent-flier mileage schemes has effectively turned airlines into “financial institutions that happen to fly planes on the side”. Consumers charge nearly 1% of America’s entire GDP to Delta’s American Express credit cards alone. And Wall Street lenders value these bank-partnered programmes more highly than the airlines themselves: in 2020, United Airlines’s MileagePlus was valued at $22bn, more than double the company’s entire market capitalisation.