Archive Article: 1996/04/19 - Farmers Weekly

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

Having already sold the herds milking portion, 105 MRI cross Friesian dairy followers and steers were sold by I J and D J Fisk at Hungerford Farm, Basingstoke, Hants, last weekend. The event followed a change in farming policy. Apart from the 24-month-old steers, values of which were down about £100 on the levels of a month ago, prices were buoyant, according to auctioneer Lindsay Mackay. Bulling heifers made to £452; yearling heifers to £388. "The demand for dairy replacements indicates the British farmers determination not to be beaten by the Euro bureaucrat," said Mr Mackay. A 1994 John Deere 6300 4wd tractor, meanwhile, made £19,800. (Simmons and Sons)

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

By Tony McDougal

Farm Bill puts squeeze on CAP

EUROPE will be forced to speed up its reform of the CAP and lower support prices if it is to compete with the United States, following the signing of the US Farm Bill.

The decision to end both annual and voluntary set-aside, replace deficiency payments with declining annual payments and nearly halve commodity support will take US agriculture closer than ever to world market prices.

Changes include:

&#8226 Providing US farmers with more freedom to grow wheat, feed grain, rice or cotton, with declining payments over seven years.

&#8226 Phasing downwards of support prices on butter, powder and cheese over four years from $10.35/cwt (£137/t) to $9.90/cwt (£131/t) in 1999 and its elimination in 2002.

&#8226 An end to long-term set-aside payments within the Conservation Reserve Programme (CRP) releasing more than 7.5m ha (18-20m acres) by 2002, but on-going $1bn environmental support.

&#8226 Reduction in export subsidies from $800m in 1995 to just under $500m by 2002.

Dr Martin Abel, senior economist for Produce Studies – which carried out research into the effects of the US Farm Bill earlier this year – said high grain prices could lead farmers to leave the CRP within the next two years.

Dr Abel said the Bill would allow farmers, with a few environmental restraints, to grow a much wider variety of crops, driven by market considerations.

"The US will be able to change its crop mix in response to market forces far quicker than before. In the next year we will see a rise in the corn and spring wheat acreages, a rise in soya bean plantings but probably a fall in cotton and rice."

However, widescale changes will not be immediately apparent, argued Dr Abel, due to the delay in the passing of the Farm Bill, which meant the winter wheat crop had already been sown, and the poor weather.

Norman Coward, Midland Bank agricultural director, said he felt the maintenance of 10-year contracts within the CRP would not lead to massive overnight changes, though the phasing out of support would leave the US a more dominant force on world trade.

Europe isolated

George Dunn, CLA rural economic adviser, said the decision to reduce US support to zero would put North America on a world market footing and leave Europe isolated.

"America is looking for far greater market access and the removal of support within the conservation reserve programme could lead to a flood of US cereals on the world grain market."

Bill Hall, ADAS economist, said the Bill would allow US farmers to better target their agricultural activity to ensure they can take advantages of changes on the world food markets.

Mr Hall said he expected pressure to rise on Europe at the World Trade Organisation talks in 1999, but felt there would be little change until then.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

MEPs back call for EU wool subsidy

By Tony McDougal

LABOUR MEPs are backing the findings of a report by Irish MEP Liam Hyland, which aims to introduce a new EU subsidy for wool production.

Although the Labour party is committed to reform of the CAP, MEPs claim further measures to support wool would be welcome in many parts of Britain.

The report, which is due to be discussed at the EU parliament in Strasbourg later today (April 19), is calling for EU support for new wool processing facilities using existing 5b funds to bring jobs to rural areas.

It also wants to see greater promotion of European aid to preserve and spread pure breeds in less favoured areas and more funding for research into new uses for wool in the light of recent technological developments.

Nations most likely to benefit from a wool subsidy would be the UK, which produced 57.1m kilograms in 1993, according to the International Textile Association, Spain (31m), France (22m) and Eire (20m).

David Thomas, Labours agriculture spokesman in the parliament (Suffolk and South West Norfolk) argued that support for the European wool industry was necessary. "Wool has been a traditional feature of British agriculture for many centuries, and one of its earliest industries. Yet it is not part of the CAP."

Joe Wilson (Lab, North Wales) added the main aim of the report was to start a debate in the EU on further support for sheep rearing and wool production in rural areas.

Robert Rhodes, British Wool Marketing Board finance director, said the UK wool industrys last form of subsidy – paid in the form of a guaranteed price – ended at the culmination of the 1992 clip.

Prices, which slumped to 60p/kg in the early 1990s, have revived substantially to a present level of 114p/kg.

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

THE British Waterfowl Association is a registered charity dedicated to educating the public about waterfowl and the need for conservation and to raising the standards of keeping and breeding ducks, geese and swans.

Support from county representatives, open day visits to outstanding collections, leaflets for beginners and copies of Waterfowl Yearbook and Buyers Guide are among the benefits BWA members receive. The annual subscription is £15.

Further information from Roz Taylor, British Waterfowl Association, Gill Cottage, New Gill, Bishopdale, Leyburn, North Yorks DL8 3TQ (01969-663693).

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

"CONSERVING yesterdays breeds for tomorrow" is the slogan of the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

The club was founded in 1877 to promote the keeping and breeding of purebred poultry and there are more than 130 breeds in existence.

Membership is open to individuals, families, poultry clubs and agricultural societies.

Members receive regular newsletters, a year-book packed with information and directories, and the benefits of the show award scheme, the judges panel and the knowledge and experience of fellow members.

Further information from Mike Clark, The Poultry Club, 30 Grosvenor Road, Frampton, Boston, Lincs PE20 1DB (01205-724081).

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Archive Article: 1996/04/19

19 April 1996

Longer but lighter – the new six-cylinder BMW 5-series goes on sale in the UK this week. Initially, the line-up comprises 2.5-litre 523i (£24,870), 2.8-litre 528i (£29,320) and 2.5-litre 525tds diesel (£24,700); a 2-litre 520i (£22,950) and two eight-cylinder models, the 535i and 540i, follow later this year. Estate enthusiasts will have to wait until mid-1997 for new-shape Tourings. Above prices relate to base spec models, which for the first time include a radio as standard..

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