.

Agri Facts Blog

February 2017

Last time I discussed the good trade for pedigree stock, but these headline figures can be misleading. Underlying economic figures are gloomy with record sector borrowing and year on year falls in farm income and profitability.   Suggestions that figures have improved in 2016, based on the favourable exchange rate and the lower cost of fertilisers and fuel. The latter two are likely to rise again, but there are predictions the exchange rate will remain low.

What’s hot?
The BPS season is just around the corner, with interest in entitlement trading increasing – remember, entitlements not used can be lost, so best to trade any surplus. The application for the Countryside Stewardship Hedgerows and Boundaries Capital Grants is now open with funding of up to £5,000 available. The application window for this is open until 28th April, so potential applicants need to get their skates on!

Planning
Two recent government announcements of interest – firstly, the housing white paper and secondly, proposals for 14 ‘garden villages’ to create up to 48,000 homes across England. This has direct local relevance, with two proposed sites in the north-west –  Bailrigg in Lancaster and St Cuthberts to the south of Carlisle. Details are slow to be released, but those potentially influenced by the projects should look out for further consultation and a call for expressions of interests.  Delighted to announce that H&H Planning have a new website – visit the team here… if you’d like to get in touch.

Prices
Good reports for prime stock sold through Borderway (13th Feb). Lamb prices are generally higher at this time of year and prices have firmed recently; a consignment of Dutch Texels reached £107.80 (256.7p/kg) with Blackface lambs at £77.30 (176.3p/kg). Good trade for cattle, with a prime British Blue bull realising £1,899.27 (224.5p/kg) and a Limousin X steer reaching £1,606.05 (232.5p/kg). Upwards trends continue in the dairy sector as First Milk confirmed price increases for February of 0.85ppl to 0.95ppl – they claim this is a rise of around 11ppl since June 2016.

Property markets
2016 was a good year for H&H Land and Property, with sales circa £33m for the calendar year –  a significant rise on the previous year and highlights confidence in the rural sector. A breakdown reveals sales of 16 farms (over £17.5 M), 51 lots of bare land or land and buildings (over £9.3 M) and 13 smallholdings (over £5.9 M). 90% of these lots sold at, or above guide price with strong sales in England and Scotland.

Policy 
The concept of ecosystems services or natural capital continues to be discussed in debates on post-Brexit policy. I can see the benefits of this for policy makers as it allows those who wish to produce food to do so. It also offers a framework of support for those in marginal or environmentally important areas. One item that raised an eyebrow was a call for an increase in the power of National Parks to help manage natural capital – the industry’s opinion on this is likely to be mixed.

To chat through any farming matters and issues, please contact me via my mobile 07836 233042 or email me direct or come and chat to us on the H&H Agri Business stand at the Dairy Expo event, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 March 2017.

Dr Nick Prince

***************************************

January 2017
Our First Blog from Nick Prince, Senior Farm Business Consultant

Hello folks and all the best for 2017…

It is probably worthwhile introducing myself at this stage as Dr Nick Prince and I join H&H Land and Property as Senior Farm Business Consultant with a mixed background in academia, education and importantly as an active farmer in the Yorkshire Dales. I say importantly as this means I fully understand the on-ground issues affecting farmers.

So where to start? Well Brexit is pretty big, and a lot of talk about the potential long-term impacts. In the meantime, things aren’t too bad: BPS payments are rolling through (at least in England); the low value of the pound has seen a significant rise in receipts; and, farm-gate commodity prices seem stable.

Pedigree stock returns have been high and congratulations to all involved; a worthy return for hard work and dedication. To those not familiar with the industry, paying £60,000 for a Beltex Ram probably seems quite surreal. Arguably the best confirmation out there, the typical Beltex lamb will be worth around £100 (£2.00+ per kg) through the fat market – so the sire needs to be prolific to recoup the money. The value of the ram will of course be in its breeding progeny and the increasing use of embryo transfer and artificial insemination technologies can increase the efficiency of these genetically valued bloodlines.

The dairy sector continues to operate within fluctuating markets, but 2016 saw price rises. The UK average for November was 25.62 pence per litre (AHDB), but tight margins for producers remain. Some optimism is being shown by processors, with the Wensleydale Creamery looking for more local producers to bolster production.

Some additional pots of funding are available to farmers, such as the Farming Ammonia Reduction Grant Scheme (100% grant available for slurry store cover projects – get in touch if you need more information).  The LEADER element of the RDP remains open and offers opportunity for creative thinking.

The aim is to continue my blog with a regular update every six to eight weeks. It would be good to hear comments and feedback to help us provide information relevant to you – so please get in touch via email or my mobile 07836 233042!

Nick