UK Appoints Agri Counsellor in China to Help Boost Trade

20 January 2015

UK – The UK has appointed its first Agriculture and Food Counsellor in China to help increase growing food and drink exports to the country.

The announcement follows a trip to China this week with the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

The new role, made possible with significant funding from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), will help British firms tap into China’s growing interest in speciality foods – a market expected to be worth a potential £39 billion this year.

Karen Morgan, based in the British embassy in Beijing, will represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting quality British food and drink produce to China, and firms looking to open new trade links. The role will involve identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing our excellent relationship with key Chinese authorities.

The UK’s world leading food and drink businesses are steadily building their share of the lucrative Chinese market with a record £215 million worth of produce exported in 2013, up from £136 million in 2012 – this new appointment is expected to see these figures grow further.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Elizabeth Truss said: “The UK has a worldwide reputation for producing top class, quality food and drink and we are increasingly seeing British firms taking advantage of the growing demand in China for our produce, from whisky and pork to Yorkshire tea.

“The appointment of our first agriculture and food counsellor in Beijing will strengthen our trade and negotiating presence in China and help UK businesses take advantage of the vast opportunities the Chinese market represents.

“This is part of my ambition for the UK food and farming sector to lead the world and is a key part of our long-term economic plan.” Ms Morgan, who currently leads Defra’s Competitive Farming team, will take up the role of Agriculture and Food Counsellor in the spring. Ms Morgan said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role. It is a very exciting time to be in China, where the opportunities for British exports are vast and growing all the time. I look forward to building close relationships both with British companies and the Chinese authorities and hope that we can really grasp some of the market opportunities in coming months and years.” Welcoming the appointment, AHDB Chairman Peter Kendall said: “This new post represents a long term strategic levy investment by AHDB, together with our continued close cooperation with the China Business Council. I know the AHDB export team is looking forward to working with Karen to expand our activities in China’s meat, livestock and dairy markets and to help create new opportunities for fresh produce and cereals.” Ms Morgan will be responsible for representing the interests of the UK food and farming industry in China and for providing strategic direction in this important area. Her role will be to deepen Britain’s co-operation with China across a range of issues relating to agriculture, food and drink production. She will also provide UK businesses and Government organisations and Ministers with an understanding of the Chinese landscape and opportunities to support UK producers in opening up more market –

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Nation Hears of Rockbottom Milk Prices Again
19 January 2015

UK – There was standing room only at a Farmers For Action (FFA) meeting on Thursday night as dairy industry players debated how to address the UK’s current milk price crisis.

Farmers descended on Bakewell livestock market to contribute to the lobbying group’s latest attempt to unify producer action in response to continuing price cuts from dairy processors.

Speaking at the Semex dairy conference in Glasgow earlier this week, FFA chairman David Handley made headlines when he threatened to quit dairying in the spring unless prices lift.

He, along with others in the industry, see no reason why the world dairy market should plague UK farmers given 85 per cent of their production is utilised domestically.

The conference was covered by mainstream television media, which included a Sky News interview with NFU President Meurig Raymond.

Out of the limelight, many farmers took to twitter this week to reach consumers with messages about good and bad supermarkets providing different farmgate prices.

Rather than focus on price, weekly twitter discussion #AgriChatUK yielded suggestions that milk taste and quality should be promoted more, with many calling for commercial milk advertising campaigns.

Using the hashtag #sosdairy, twitter users have posted pictures of milk being drunk around the house to raise general awareness. The hashtag became an online meeting place during the 2012 dairy crisis which spawned the #sosDairy song.

Just like in 2012, large retailers, as well as the processing middle ground, have come under fire as price adjustments are made following the Global Dairy Trade Price Index halving in nine months.

The dramatic switch in dairying fortunes means farmers are now receiving around 12 pence per litre less than the spring of last year. The NFU and DairyUK have assured that global demand will grow, although markets will be tough for the months ahead.

First Milk suppliers were hit particularly hard when they were told last week that they would not be paid for a fortnight because of cash flow issues.

In the meanwhile, the UK’s largest farmer owned cooperative has steadied the financial ship and now says it is on a sure footing after several restructuring measures.

Producer levy board DairyCo has offered consultant support for English farmers in their own cash flow predicaments.

Drawn up after consulting with banks and business and industry experts, the service aims to advise on the year ahead, enabling, if needed, informed discussion with lenders and others.

For the rest of 2015, DairyUK chairman Billy Keane has said farmers need “unstinting support of government”, at both national and European level, a month after the European Commission reassured that the dairy sector is the “while gold” of the coming decade.

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TB Tests More Effective than Badger Culls

15 January 2015

UK – Changing winter housing and increasing tuberculosis cattle testing frequency are more likely to control bovine tuberculosis in the UK than culling badgers, computer modelling suggests.

Queen Mary University of London researchers have shown regular and frequent cattle testing could lead to eventual TB control, whether alongside culling or without.

Badger culling, as piloted in the south west of England, is however one of four ways to potentially control TB, although is not believed to be successful when used in isolation, concluded the report.

Through state-of-the-art computer modelling, Dr Aristides Moustakas and Professor Matthew Evans analysed badger and cattle life-cycles, testing frequency, cattle movement, housing and infection rates between animals.

Professor Evans said: “Of the available Bovine Tuberculosis control strategies we believe that how frequently cattle are tested and whether or not farms utilise winter housing have the most significant effect on the number of infected cattle.”

“Our modelling provides compelling evidence, for those charged with controlling Bovine TB, that investment in increasing the frequency of cattle testing is a far more effective strategy than badger culling.”

However, he caveated that TB is a complex disease, making modelling difficult, adding that he was confident in the predictions nonetheless.

New insight has been provided by the study to the long running TB debate, which the Northern Ireland government opened to the public this week.

Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill urged all parties to enter into an information and evidence gathering phase to develop a long-term strategy for eradicating TB in cattle in the north.

The initiative is part of the TB Strategic Partnership Group, currently considering ways to improve detection of TB in cattle, enhance biosecurity measures, reduce disease risks, compensate for losses and cost-effectively deal with wildlife.

English farmers in Gloucestershire and Somerset culling areas will soon get veterinary advice tailored to their specific farm on TB reduction risk, Defra announced on Wednesday.

Provided by the Animal and Plant Health Agency over the next two years, farmers will be helped to strengthen TB prevention measures.

Farming minister George Eustice said: “This new service is part of our comprehensive strategy to beat bovine TB and will provide farmers with expert advice on how they can reduce the risk of the disease affecting their farm.”

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