Archive | Agriculture

EU Support Scheme Helps to Reduce Milk Production

Nearly 44,000 farmers from across the EU have applied for support from the EU for agreeing to voluntarily reduce their production of milk by nearly 852,000t in the last quarter of 2016. This EU milk production reduction scheme, launched last summer and financed with €150 million, was one of the flagship measures decided by the European Commission to face the milk crisis. It contributed to the rising trend in EU milk prices over the last few months, balancing the markets.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan comments: “The European Union continues to strongly support dairy farmers in good times and bad. When I took office in 2014, Europe was entering a profound and lasting dairy price crisis. We saw the storm clouds coming. And we took decisive action at every stage of the crisis, exhausting every legislative tool at our disposal. The voluntary reduction production scheme is a measure which had never been done before, but which has been a clear success. There has been a slow but unmistakeable price recovery, with the milk market witnessing a rising trend for a number of months. EU average farm gate milk prices have increased by 31% since last summer, up to 33.7 c/kg in February. Is this a perfect recovery? Of course not. But is it evidence that things are moving in the right direction? I would say yes.”

According to the final figures received by Member States for the first reduction period (October to December 2016), 43,968 milk producers reached a total production reduction of 851,700 tonnes of milk. The scheme’s wide take-up and the ensuing price recovery show that it responded both to farmers’ expectations and to market needs.

The money not used as part of the €150 million set aside for the scheme will remain available for agricultural expenditure and will finance other market measures that may prove necessary in the agricultural sector.

The final figures of the second reduction period (November 2016 to January 2017) will be known at the beginning of April and will provide the full overview of this exceptional, one off scheme launched by the European Commission.

Under the scheme, farmers receive 14 euro cents for every kilogramme of milk production they agree to reduce. Each Member States could decide to top up that amount with EU funds distributed as national envelopes for extra support by the European Commission in July 2016. Farmers are paid on the basis of the actual reduction in production and not the planned amount applied for, based on proof of the actual reduction provided to their national authority.

The voluntary milk production reduction scheme was one of the several tools deployed by the European Commission to support farmers facing the crisis that hit the sector. In total, more than €1 billion has been mobilised since September 2015 in the form of market measures like public intervention and private storage for dairy products and other exceptional measures.

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Organic Starches to Meet Growing Food Industry Demand

The organic German food industry is booming, with organic farming playing, once again, a key role in the food and agriculture industries. So much so that in 2017, the federal government is expected to invest €20 million to support and strengthen organic farming in order to push organically cultivated land to total 20% of Germany’s overall cropland.

As producers look to source home-grown organic ingredients with minimum transportation requirements, KRÖNER-STÄRKE, a leading German producer of wheat starches, is now in a prime position to help meet the surge in demand for vegetarian and organic food. The company, which has been producing organic versions of its popular range of starches for nearly thirty years now, is helping food producers to meet strict clean-label and organic standards.

One of KRÖNER-STÄRKE’s most popular organic gluten free wheat starches, SANOSTAR, offers outstanding taste and perfect baking properties. It is 100% non-GMO and has guaranteed compliance with improved safety standards as each production batch is analysed by an external laboratory. Its sister product, SANOGEL, a cold swelling organic gluten free wheat starch, is also naturally produced to give a functional ingredient of the highest standard for food processors needing an organic, gluten free alternative starch.

The firm can provide the supply chain with a dependable source of high standard, organic raw materials, which can be used as functional and clean label ingredients in a wide variety of food products. Applications for its organic starches are wide reaching and range from baked goods, delicatessen products, vegetarian burgers, meat and meat replacement products to soups, batters, sauces and fruit preparations.

No longer a niche sector available only in health food shops, organic and clean-label foods are making an increasingly big appearance in main supermarkets and discount stores too. Both bread producers and those catering for the vegan or vegetarian market can take advantage of KRÖNER-STÄRKE’s organic vital wheat gluten. In the bakery sector, it adds texture and softness to bread and in the growing vegan/vegetarian sector, it is ideal for use in Seitan, a meat replacement product.

There is a growing sense of responsibility from consumers to seek processing methods known to be kinder to the environment and which they believe to be more sustainable. Food producers offering an organic alternative to their usual products can tap into this growing market – providing they can vouch for the quality of their raw materials.

Sourcing dependable raw materials need not be difficult. With KRÖNER-STÄRKE’s totally chemical-free approach to the production of all of its starches, food producers are guaranteed organic starches with full traceability. Even the water used in its grain processing stage is sourced from its own natural spring water well.

KRÖNER-STÄRKE routinely monitors both the land and grain suppliers it uses in order to ensure complete integrity in its own organic supply chain. The company has an in-depth knowledge of the organic cultivation methods used in the production of its raw materials and makes sure that all of its delivery partners adhere to the standards set by European Organic Regulations with regard to the use of pesticides.

Product development technician, Maren Wiese, comments: “We are in an excellent position to satisfy the German appetite for top quality raw ingredients with regional roots, and that do not cost the earth. Our organic starches are available in native, pre-gelatinised or gluten free form and enable food processors to benefit from excellent functionality whilst at the same time responding to the consumer demand for more sustainable, clean-label ingredients in food.”

For more information visit www.kroener-staerke.de.

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Short-term Outlook For Agricultural Markets Shows Recovery in EU Milk Prices

The European Commission has published its short-term outlook for arable crops, olive oil, meat and dairy markets in the EU for 2017-2018, confirming that the reduction in the EU milk supply at the end of 2016 contributed to a significant recovery in EU milk prices. Exports and domestic demand led to record high prices for butter and a significant price recovery for cheese.

By contrast, the skimmed milk powder (SMP) price is expected to remain around current levels given the high stock levels and that the seasonal peak of milk collection is still to come. Low cereal prices were driven by abundant world supply and stocks. By contrast, EU cereal production declined by 5.5% in 2016/2017, following smaller-than-average soft wheat and maize harvests. This should result in a slowdown in EU cereal exports. EU rapeseed harvest was also below average but, given the large world oilseed supply, this only resulted in a small price surge.

EU sugar prices are catching up with high world prices. As for olive oil, low 2016/2017 production (13% below average) together with low stock levels resulted in higher prices.

EU meat production reached a record level in 2016 but is showing signs of downward adjustments. Sustained pig meat exports to China facilitated a recovery in the EU price. Continued good beef exports held EU price decreases in check. The production of sheep meat is growing at a slower rate, on the back of lower prices.

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One in Four British Dairy Farmers to Benefit From £31 Million Arla Windfall

Arla Foods UK, Britain’s leading farmer-owned dairy company, has announced that its British owners will receive £31 million as their 2016 year-end bonus. Arla is owned by 12,000 dairy farmers across Europe, 2,500 of whom are British and make up almost a quarter of all British dairy farmers.

Once a year, Arla distributes its profits equally between all of its farmer owners in its so-called supplementary (13th) payment. This will be paid as a cash bonus. £7 million of the windfall will be invested into each farmer’s individual savings accounts for each farmer to build up a lump sum should they decide to leave the cooperative.

The 13th payment is equally distributed to all farmer owners; proportionate to the amount of milk they supply rather than based on their equity investment in Arla. This year, the 13th payment is equivalent to an average of almost £9,000 to each Arla farmer across England, Wales and Scotland.

The bonus was agreed by the company’s board of representatives, which is almost wholly comprised of elected farmer owners and includes 20 British farmers. In 2017, this will increase to 23 British farmers, reflecting the increasing strength of British farming within the dairy cooperative.

Farmer owner and Arla Foods board director, Jonathan Ovens, says: “The 13th payment is one of many important benefits for farmer owners like me and is particularly welcome as we begin to come out of a difficult year. It enables us to invest in our farms, and also save for the future.”

He adds: “It’s an annual benefit and a return on my investment that I couldn’t achieve elsewhere. It’s good to work together with Arla to back British dairy farming. As we need to increase the country’s milk production to meet growing demand, it’s also reassuring that Arla promises to collect every drop of milk I produce at the Arla price.”

Arla Foods UK has a turnover of €2.2 billion and is home to leading dairy brands Anchor®, Arla Cravendale®, and Arla Lactofree®. As well as being a leading supplier of fresh milk, number one in butter, spreads and cream, Arla is the UK’s largest cheese manufacturer. It has also built the world’s largest fresh milk facility located at Aylesbury that later this year will become the first net zero carbon site of its kind. The UK contributes 25% of Arla Foods’ group revenue.

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WTO Confirms Russian Pork Ban is Illegal

The WTO’s Appellate Body has confirmed that Russia’s import ban from 2014 on live pigs, pork and other pig products from the EU violates international trade rules. The ruling concerns a ban imposed by Russia because of the outbreak of African Swine Fever in areas in the EU close to the border with Belarus.

In August 2016, a WTO panel acknowledged that the Russian measures are not based on the relevant international standards and violate WTO rules. The ruling confirms this finding, thereby sending another strong signal to Russia and all WTO Members on their obligation to respect international standards and, in particular, the principle of regionalisation, which would allow trade from individual areas of a country which are recognised as pest or disease-free, independent of the health status in the rest of the country.

The EU has one of the world’s most efficient animal health and food safety systems, including high detection levels and stringent risk management rules. EU products from disease-free areas are safe, and there is no need for any country to maintain unjustified import restrictions. The EU calls on Russia to withdraw its unjustified measures and allow EU companies to resume normal business with their Russian partners.

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Additional €124 Million Paid Out to Arla Farmers

Arla Foods’ Board of Representatives has decided to distribute a total of 124 million to the farmer-owners as the annual supplementary payment, also known as the 13th payment. On average, that amounts to one eurocent per kilo of milk supplied by each farmer.

At the meeting in Halmstad, Sweden, the Board of Representatives debated and decided how much of Arla’s annual profit for the 2016 financial year should be paid out as supplementary payment and how much should be consolidated into the Arla Group for further investments in new strategic growth opportunities for the company.

Total net profit of the Arla Group in 2016 grew 20.7 per cent to €356 million, of which the profit share of Arla Foods amba is €347 million, corresponding to 3.6 per cent of group revenue.

Excluding the profit from divestments, which remains in the company for re-investment, the available annual result for allocation for 2016 was €227 million. Of this, the Board of Directors had proposed that €124 million would be paid out directly to Arla’s farmer-owners, with €103 million being retained in the company (partly as individual retainment that each farmer-owner can take with him/her when their membership ends, partly as common retainment that remains in the company as equity and for strategic re-investing).

This means that Arla’s annual result for distribution to owners is allocated as follows:

* €124 million for supplementary payment (averaging 1.00 eurocent per kilo milk plus interests)

* €30 million for individual retainment (averaging 0.28 eurocent per kilo milk)

* €73 million for common retainment (averaging 0.54 eurocent per kilo milk)

* €120 million from the divestment of Rynkeby retained for strategic re-investing.

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Green Credentials of Ireland’s Dairy Sector Could be Key to Addressing Climate Change Challenge

The impact of climate change represents a significant opportunity for Ireland’s dairy Sector but also poses a threat, a special industry conference held recently at the Teagasc Ashtown conference centre, Dublin, heard. The conference included details of a safefood sponsored research project which surveyed dairy industry stakeholders to determine their level of awareness of the potential impacts that Climate Change could create.

Principal researcher on the project, Professor Thia Hennessy of University College Cork’s Department of Food Business said: “This is the first such survey of dairy industry stakeholders on the island and we found that stakeholders from right across the dairy supply chain demonstrated a high level of awareness of climate change as well as a commitment to collective action to avail of any opportunities climate change may bring.”

Research collaborator Trevor Donnellan of Teagasc, continued: “The study confirmed that Climate Change presents both an opportunity and a threat for the Irish dairy sector. The threats identified in the survey included, extreme weather events, the emergence of new diseases and pests. By contrast the development of unfavourable climate conditions in some of the world’s key milk producing countries could offer an advantage to the Irish dairy sector, since the Irish climate is likely to be less adversely affected. One of the major recommendations of this research was that more planning is required to consider how to deal with extreme weather events.”

Welcoming the research, Dr James McIntosh, safefood, said: “Our work to improve public health on the island of Ireland is evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers and the food environment. Climate Change has the potential to impact on almost every aspect of food production and supply on the island and it’s important for us to understand how the provision of safe food and the promotion of good food safety practices across the food chain will be affected, particularly in larger agri-food sectors such as the dairy industry.”

The conference heard that there was a general view that science and technology can play a major role in mitigating Climate Change, but that there are obstacles to getting technology from the lab to the farm. Not all farmers were eager to adopt technological developments and these concerns needed to be addressed. Stakeholders felt that technologies being developed to address greenhouse gas emissions should be discussed with farmers in the developmental stage to establish their practicality.

Katrina Campbell of Queen’s University Belfast, who also collaborated on the research, continued: “Climate Change may also pose a threat for food safety as one of the most prevalent food safety hazards within the dairy industry is mycotoxins which emerge in animal feed. Warmer and wetter climates, as projected for Ireland under Climate Change, would contribute to a proliferation in fungal growth and thereby increase in mycotoxin contamination.”

“To counter the potential impact of Climate Change on food safety, new innovative technology and monitoring systems must be invested in to help ensure Climate Change consequences do not become a threat from the beginning point of the dairy food chain.  New testing methods to detect contaminants may need to be investigated in order to prevent transmission through the food chain and human consumption,” she added.

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EU Agri-food Exports Reach Record High in 2016

The annual value of EU agri-food exports in 2016 reached a new record level with total exports reaching €130.7 billion, up €1.7 billion on 2015. The biggest increases in annual exports were to the USA (up €1.26 billion) and China (up €1.06 billion).

At the same time, the value of EU agri-food imports went down 1.5% to €112 billion. This leads to an increase of the EU agri-food trade surplus to €18.8 billion, up from €15.3 billion in 2015.

The agri-food sector accounted for 7.5% of total EU exports in goods in 2016; and 6.6% of all imported goods are agri-food products. With a surplus of €18.8 billion the agri-food sector is also a major contributor to the overall surplus of the European Union in merchandise trade, which stood at €39.3 billion in 2016.

Throughout last year, EU producers have successfully increased exports of non-commodity primary products (pigmeat, vegetables). Also export values for processed agricultural products (wine, olive oil) and food preparation increased by 4 to 5% in average, while export values for commodities (wheat and other cereals, milk powder) and non-edible products went down.

This month’s report focuses on agri-food trade with Canada. The EU is a net-exporter of agri-food products to Canada, with a surplus of about €1.25 billion in 2016. Main EU export products are value added processed products, food preparations and beverages, with wine, spirits and liqueurs, confectionery, beer as well as pastry and biscuits being the most important product categories.

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Glanbia to Create New €1.5 Billion Turnover Irish Dairy Business

Glanbia plc, the global nutrition group, has agreed to sell a 60% interest in its wholly-owned Dairy Ireland segment to Glanbia Co-op, Ireland’s largest and most valuable co-operative with 14,773 members, for €112 million. Dairy Ireland is comprised of two business units, Glanbia Consumer Foods Ireland and Glanbia Agribusiness.

Glanbia Consumer Foods Ireland is the leading supplier of branded consumer dairy products to the Irish market, as well as an exporter of long-life dairy products. Glanbia Agribusiness supplies inputs to the Irish agriculture sector and is the leading purchaser and processor of grain and the leading manufacturer of branded animal feed in Ireland. Dairy Ireland also has holdings in a number of associates involved in primary manufacture and distribution of farm inputs.  All of Dairy Ireland’s manufacturing operations are based in the Republic of Ireland.

In 2016, Glanbia’s Dairy Ireland segment delivered revenue of €616.2 million, EBITA of €30.7 million and an EBITA margin of 5.0%. Dairy Ireland accounted for 10.1% of Glanbia plc’s wholly owned EBITA in 2016.

Glanbia plc and Glanbia Co-op intend to form a new entity, ‘Glanbia Ireland’, which will encompass Glanbia Consumer Foods Ireland, Glanbia Agribusiness and Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, an existing joint venture between the two partners. The ‘Glanbia Ireland’ strategic joint venture will be 60% owned by Glanbia Co-op and 40% owned by Glanbia plc.

A 60:40 joint venture between Glanbia Co-operative Society and Glanbia plc, Glanbia Ingredients Ireland is the largest dairy processor in Ireland, processing a total of 2.2 billion litres of milk per year with approximately 700 employees and sales revenue of over €836 million in 2016. Its products, the large majority of which are exported to more than 60 countries, include milk powders, butter, cheese, whey protein, milk protein and casein. Its customers include many of the large global food and infant formula manufacturers as well as more regionally focused players across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Siobhan Talbot, group managing director of Glanbia, comments: “The creation of Glanbia Ireland makes strategic sense for the shareholders of both Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia plc. It brings together in a single structure the ownership, operations and objectives of Glanbia’s Irish dairy and agri-businesses. With €1.5 billion of annual revenue and a 2.4 billion litre milk pool, it will be a large scale, efficient business with a high quality supply chain and the strength and diversity to face the future with confidence. Glanbia plc will continue to focus on its global nutrition strategy through the platforms of Glanbia Performance Nutrition (GPN), Glanbia Nutritionals (GN) and strategic joint ventures for the benefit of all shareholders.”

There are currently plans for a strategic investment programme in Glanbia Ireland of between €250 million to €300 million in the period between 2017 and 2020. This investment programme will increase capacity to support the stated growth ambitions of the Glanbia milk suppliers and optimise value adding opportunities. The financing of the investment will largely be sourced from dedicated bank facilities in Glanbia Ireland.

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A Positive Future for the UK Beet Sugar Industry

The lifting of European Union (EU) sugar quotas in October 2017 and leaving of the EU, offers exciting opportunities for great British businesses and industries, such as British Sugar and the wider UK beet sugar industry.

According to Paul Kenward, Managing Director of British Sugar: “We are one of Britain’s most globally competitive industries and we are ready to work with farmers, importers and government to design a UK sugar policy that allows our world-leading domestic sugar industry to continue to thrive.”

A new report ‘British Sugar: A homegrown success story’ outlines the significant contribution the UK beet sugar industry makes to the communities in which it operates. Currently, British Sugar partners with 3,500 growers, employs 1,400 people and supports a further 9,500 skilled jobs across the UK. This homegrown success story supplies 60% of the UK’s sugar market.

He continues: “Over the past 100 years we have built a world-class UK beet sugar industry, contributing to local economies and communities, and benefiting UK plc. Our investment of £250 million over the past five years has made our factories the most efficient in the world. Beet sugar yields in the UK have improved by more than 25% in the last ten years. Our focus on improving efficiency and reducing waste has led to a range of co-products. We generate enough electricity to power a city the size of Peterborough; we produce up to 70 million litres of Bioethanol annually; and used our topsoil to landscape the Olympic Park.”

William Martin, Chairman of NFU Sugar, says: “The dismantlement of the EU Sugar regime and Brexit will present opportunities for arable farmers in the beet growing areas of the UK, but the real opportunities will come from beet growers and British Sugar working in partnership to maximize the returns from the market place in a new commercial environment.”

The report, ‘British Sugar: A homegrown success story’ can be downloaded here

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Tesco’s Organic Food Sales Grow By 15%

Organic foods in Britain are experiencing the strongest growth in customer demand for over a decade. In the last year alone, Tesco has seen organic sales rise by 15 per cent.

While fruit and vegetables continue to be the most popular choice for shoppers, over the last 12 months the retailer has seen increasing numbers of customers looking to buy organic fish, dairy produce and general grocery items.

The increase in demand is a direct result of the supermarket’s commitment to offering customers a wider range of quality organic foods in more of its stores and lower more stable pricing – making it a more accessible option for shoppers across the country.

Areas that have seen the strongest growth include:

* Fruit and vegetables including apples, bananas, carrots, salads and root vegetables – up by nearly 17 per cent.

* Grocery items such as olive oil, pasta and cooking sauces – up by nearly 16 per cent.

* Fresh meat including chicken, lamb chops, steak and eggs – up by 13 per cent.

* Chilled foods such as milk, houmous and cooked meats – up by nearly 13 per cent.

Tesco organic food spokesman Tina Moore says: “Due to our long-term partnerships with suppliers and producers across the UK, we’ve been able to improve the quality, range, availability and price of our organic products for customers. We are seeing that shoppers are increasingly looking to buy organic food but it needs to be affordable and consistently high quality all year round for it to be considered a viable option.”

She adds: “The popularity of organic food began with fruit and vegetables but we are now seeing customers exploring areas such as grocery, fish and dairy, so you can now use organic produce for the whole meal.”

Last Autumn Tesco teamed up with the Organic Trade Board on an initiative which helped customers discover the breadth of the range on offer in its stores. They provided boxes containing organic goodies so that shoppers could create their own organic meal at home. The Organic Unboxed initiative saw 7.5 million Tesco online customers receive a free ingredients box with a recipe card and information on how to cook a tasty organic meal specially designed by a food blogger.

Adrian Blackshaw, chair of the Organic Trade Board says: “Traditionally the two main challenges for customers buying organic, is the price and the availability. Over the last decade we have seen this improve across the industry and now the organic market is in a clear growth phase in the UK. But there is much more we can do – there’s a huge opportunity for Tesco to attract new organic consumers and in doing so, add value to their business.”

The Organic Trade Board recently won a share of £9 million EU funding to help promote organic food in Britain and Denmark and will be working with Tesco to try to further increase the organic market. They will be working with Tesco on making organic food more visible in stores and helping to communicate the reasons for choosing organic through a number of campaigns.

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Morrisons Launches Search For the Local UK Foodmakers

British supermarket group Morrisons is starting a search for the best local food producers, as a new report calls for the UK to be more self-sufficient in food production and new consumer research shows a growing appetite from British shoppers for more local food.

‘The Nation’s Local Foodmakers’ will see Morrisons aim to recruit more than 200 new suppliers from across England, Scotland and Wales in the first year. Morrisons is inviting foodmakers to pitch for their place in its supermarkets via a series of 12 regional events starting in Yorkshire on 14th March.

The move comes as a new report published by leading experts on global food issues led by Professor Tim Benton, from the University of Leeds, says that only half (52%) of food eaten in the UK comes from British farmers.

In the British Food report, Professor Benton says that in light of uncertainties globally it makes increasing sense to build up a stronger local food sector here in the UK and calls on British retailers, producers and customers to recognise the wider benefits of supporting UK food making and production. The main conclusions of the independent report, which was commissioned by Morrisons, are:

* There are risks – climate change and trade wars – in ‘too much’ reliance on food produced elsewhere and these could increase over time. The rapid increase of global goods trading over the past three decades means the UK now exports £18 billion of food whilst importing £39 billion. Whilst global trade has a place and the UK can never be entirely self sufficient buying more food locally will increase our resilience to these risks.

* British customers have an appetite to buy more local food because they believe it to be more trustworthy, and that it supports their local communities. This is supported by new research from Morrisons which shows that British consumers are open to this shift with more than two thirds (67%) of UK shoppers stating in an omnibus survey of 2,000 adults a preference to buy British with the remainder expressing no preference.

* Supporting local foodmakers will have wider benefits for the nation and the British countryside. It will support the local economy, maintain a thriving agricultural sector, create greater diversity of farm types producing more diverse foods, benefiting the countryside. It will also potentially produce food more efficiently and transparently, increasing our trust in it.

* The UK used to grow a greater range of crops. The UK has seen a decline in the indigenous produce grown here with orchards, for example, now accounting for 25,100 hectares compared to 113,000 hectares 50 years go. The report also points to periods where production of cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, parsnips, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, rhubarb and pears grown in the UK have decreased with French and runner beans down by as much as 49%.

The programme will see Morrisons buyers tour Great Britain in search of the best local producers to supply its 491 stores nationwide. The company has a priority of sourcing more local food and is keen to reduce the distance that food travels.

Morrisons will also be working with members of the Women’s Institutes in their communities around the UK, using their local knowledge and expertise to source and select the best suppliers in their area.

The search will result in more customers being able to buy more food in a British supermarket that was grown, made, picked or packaged within 30-60 miles of their local store.

Andy Higginson, Chairman of Morrisons, says: “Our customers tell us they want to see more food that is made just down the road from their own communities and that’s why we are looking for the next generation of British and local foodmakers to serve our 12 million customers. We want small UK food suppliers to become bigger ones – the Innocent Smoothies of tomorrow – and we also want to give our customers the option of more food that meets their local food tastes.”

He adds: “Morrisons is already British farming’s biggest single customer and the publication of the report from Professor Benton makes us more determined to produce more of our food and source more from local British suppliers.”

Suppliers will be asked to apply through a new website www.morrisons.com/local. Selected applicants will be invited to an event in their region where they will be able to showcase their food to customers, Morrisons staff and Women’s Institute members as well as Morrisons buyers, who will decide who is selected to take their place in Morrisons supermarkets.

Morrisons is in a unique position to support British foodmakers because as well as operating 491 supermarkets, Morrisons is the UK’s largest fresh food maker.

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Irish Food Research Presented to Chinese Food Companies

Teagasc, the Irish agriculture and food development authority, recently outlined its dairy and nutrition research to Chinese food companies at seminars organised by Enterprise Ireland in Shanghai and Beijing in China. The seminars were planned to promote Ireland’s dairy product offerings on the Chinese market and to champion Ireland as a location for Chinese investment in the dairy industry.

Representatives from Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, Kerry, Ornua, Aurivo, Carbery, and Dairygold also attended the two seminars. Apart from Teagasc, presentations were also made by representatives from Moorepark Technology Ltd, the APC Microbiome Institute, Food for Health Ireland, Bord Bia, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Embassy in Bejing.

The seminars provided an opportunity to outline to Chinese Dairy and IMF companies details of the exciting areas of dairy and nutrition research happening in Ireland, and how Chinese companies can collaborate with Ireland’s Dairy and Nutrition Centres of Excellence.

Speaking in China, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle outlined some of Teagasc’s innovation in dairy technologies in its food research programme on clover rations in dairy cows on the sensory characteristics and functionality of milk and Teagasc. He spoke about the superior quality of dairy products produced from Ireland’s pasture-based system and recent developments in dairy processing technologies. The integrated research, advisory and education functions of Teagasc were highlighted, along with the benefits of having the animal and grassland, research and innovation programme integrated with its food research programme. Teagasc has a number of Chinese food researchers and PhDs working in Moorepark and is collaborating with similar research institutions in China. Teagasc has recently established a joint research lab with the University of Fujian to extend its research collaborations in support of Ireland’s dairy industry.

John Hunter, Chief Executive of Moorepark Technology Ltd, showed the capacity of the pilot plant facilities available at MTL. Professor Catherine Stanton from the APC Microbiome Institute and Teagasc spoke about how intestinal microbiota influence health and disease and outlined some of the latest findings from the Institute’s research programme.

At the seminars Ireland was promoted as a location for dairy nutrition and infant formula manufacturing, investment by Chinese companies.

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Public Consultation on Future of Common Agricultural Policy

The European Commission has launched the first phase of the modernisation and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the opening of a three-month public consultation. The contributions received will support the Commission’s work to define the agricultural policy priorities for the future. A modernised and simplified Common Agricultural Policy would address the key challenges that agriculture and rural areas are facing while at the same time contributing to the Commission’s policy priorities (notably jobs and growth), to sustainable development, a budget focused on results, simplification and subsidiarity.

EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan comments: “The Common Agricultural Policy is already delivering major benefits for every European citizen, in terms of food security, the vitality of rural areas, the rural environment and the contribution to the climate change challenge. By designing a roadmap for the future, I am confident it can deliver even more. But we must refine it, and revitalise it, and – of course – we must adequately fund it.”

The public consultation will run for 12 weeks and will give farmers, citizens, organisations and any other interested parties the chance to have their say on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. The input from the consultation will be used by the Commission to help draft a Communication, due by the end of 2017 that will include conclusions on the current performance of the Common Agricultural Policy and potential policy options for the future based on reliable evidence.

The results of the public consultation will be published online and presented at a conference in Brussels in July 2017.

First launched in 1962, the Common Agricultural Policy is one of the EU’s longest-standing policies and has evolved over the years to meet the changing challenges of agricultural markets. Although the most recent reforms date from 2013, there have been several fundamental developments since then to which the Common Agricultural Policy needs to respond more effectively, such as increased market uncertainty and falling prices, new international commitments on climate change and sustainable development.

Faced with these and other challenges, the Common Agricultural Policy needs to be modernised, simplified to reduce even further the administrative burden and made even more coherent with other EU policies to maximise its contribution to the 10 political priorities of the Commission, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate change agreement.

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Jaffa Orri Mandarin Export Sales Expected to Increase by 50%

The Plant Production and Marketing Board of Israel predicts an export increase of 50% for Jaffa Orri mandarin fruit in 2017. The harvest of these highly desired mandarins started in mid-December, 2016 (a week before the season started last year), and met the growing demand for Jaffa Orri. The fruit was available on shelves by Christmas.

“We set ambitious goals to increase Jaffa Orri export volumes in 2017, and hope to double exports of the fruit by 2020,” says Tal Amit, head of the citrus sector at Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board. “Currently, available quantities are not sufficient to meet demand. This high demand is due to the fruit’s remarkable flavor and other outstanding characteristics, and is evident in the growing number of markets for it. We’re set to bring the Jaffa Orri to every premium supermarket, worldwide.”

It is estimated that crop this season will reach approximately 135,000 metric tons (MT), and is forecast to reach 200,000 MT in a few years’ time. (In 2016, production was 90,000 MT.)

“This significant increase in the Orri harvest is a direct result of improving quality in cultivation, and in attaining better crop protection during growth,” explains Amit.

The Jaffa Orri is a mandarin orange developed by scientists of the Volcani Research Center in Bet-Dagan, Israel.

This mandarin is easy to peel, with minimal seed content, and boasts an excellent, sweet flavor and spicy aroma. The Orri has an extremely long season, with a particularly long shelf life. The fruit ripens during a period when most easy-peelers are in short supply in the markets.

Jaffa Orri is exported worldwide to 45 destinations. Most of the crop is exported to the European market (78%). The most prominent countries in Europe for Orri mandarins are France (39%), the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Russia (7% each). Apart from Europe, 18% of the fruit is sent to North America and 4% to Asia Pacific.

The Plant Production & Marketing Board was established in 2004 to assist farmers in advancing their agricultural missions. The board promotes the Jaffa brand and other registered citrus industry brands. It helps kick-start pioneering R&D projects, executes centralized crop protection initiatives, assists organizations in meeting phytosanitary standards and insures growers against weather-related losses.

Visit the Plant Production & Marketing Board at Fruit Logistica, Berlin, The Cube, Hall B, booth #C-17.

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Dutch Agri and Food Exports Achieve Record High in 2016

The Dutch agri & food sector has further strengthened its leading position in the world market. In 2016, Agri & Food exports totalled almost €94 billion, compared to €90 billion in 2015. Agricultural products accounted for €85 billion and agricultural materials, knowledge and technology accounted for €9 billion: a new record. This means the agri & food sector now comprises 22% of total exports. This is shown by provisional figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Wageningen Economic Research.

The export of agricultural products rose by over €3.6 billion (+4.4%) to €85 billion, the largest increase since 2011. The exports were mainly foodstuffs, such as vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat and processed products, in addition to high-quality floriculture. A noticeable factor is the increasing demand for Dutch agricultural materials, innovations and high-quality technology. Exports in this area totalled nearly €9 billion. Examples of such exports include energy-efficient greenhouses, precision agriculture systems (via GPS and drones) and new discoveries that make crops more resistant to the effects of climate change and diseases. In 2016, the import of agricultural products rose by 1.6% to €57.1 billion.

Dutch Minister for Agriculture Martijn van Dam says: “We have successfully reinforced our leading position in Europe and the world. Agri & food exports have significantly grown once more. ‘Made in Holland’ is no longer a label reserved only for tulips and cheese. Our worldwide reputation in the field of agricultural knowledge and technology also continues to grow. In the future, we want to continue contributing to effective, healthy and sustainable food provision around the world. And our smart, innovative products and technology will allow us to do exactly that.”

With agricultural and horticultural exports totalling €85 billion, the Netherlands is top of the league in Europe. The global leader is the United States. The Netherlands is in second place, with Germany, Brazil and China making up the rest of the top five. Of the total export figure of €85 billion, €24 billion comprises re-exports: products that the Netherlands imports, processes and then exports again. Germany is the Netherlands’ most important trading partner. Over three-quarters (77%) of total agricultural exports go to countries in Europe. These mainly consist of tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, meat and dairy products. From outside Europe, flowers and plants are the Netherlands’ most in-demand agricultural products, followed by meat and dairy produce.

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Walsh Mushrooms Acquires Golden Mushrooms in Positive Move For Irish Mushroom Industry

Walsh Mushrooms Group has acquired the business and assets of Golden Mushrooms, one of Ireland’s top mushroom growers. Walsh Mushrooms Group is the second largest mushroom supplier to the UK marketplace, with operations in Ireland and the UK in compost manufacture, mushroom growing, marketing and distribution. The move, which comes amid on-going volatility in the sector in the wake of Brexit, can be seen as a significant show of confidence in the future of the Irish mushroom industry.

Walsh Mushrooms Group currently markets over 26,000 tonnes of mushrooms per annum accounting for over 15% of the total UK mushroom market. The acquisition brings total group employee numbers to 380 people across four sites in Ireland and the UK and boosts the groups own production capability to 140 tonnes of mushrooms per week.

Padraic O’Leary, managing director of Walsh Mushrooms, comments: “The last seven months have certainly been incredibly difficult but we are confident that the sector will overcome the challenge created by Brexit. The fact is that mushrooms are the second largest vegetable category in the UK, yet the market is not self-sufficient and needs to import 50% of their mushroom requirement. A long-standing, strong relationship exists between our markets and we are confident that ultimately the UK will return a more sustainable price for Irish mushrooms reflecting the new, post Brexit, foreign exchange rates.”

Founded by Michael and Marian Bergin, Golden Mushrooms began operating on a site outside the village of Golden in Tipperary in 1998 and quickly grew to become a significant producer in the Irish market employing 90 people and achieving turnover of over €5 million.  The business will continue trading as Walsh Mushrooms Golden Ltd.

Founder of Golden Mushrooms, Michael Bergin says: “We are proud to have grown a successful business from scratch and are delighted to see it, and our loyal employees, continue to operate under the new ownership of Walsh Mushrooms Group. We have worked closely with Walsh Mushrooms Group for the last 15 years and greatly respect their continued support and confidence in the Irish mushroom industry.”

Padraic O’Leary adds: “We believe that this acquisition will serve to further strengthen the Walsh Mushrooms Group, building on our recent significant investments in our production and packaging facilities in the UK. Golden Mushrooms has grown into a successful business over the last 18 years and we have long admired the production facilities and staff. Their strong commitment to sustainability, with the presence of a biomass facility on site, was key for us and strongly aligns with our group environmental policy.”

Walsh Mushrooms Group was founded in Gorey, County Wexford in 1979 and now operates across four sites in Ireland and the UK including the newly acquired mushroom production facility in Golden, County Tipperary; a compost manufacturing facility in Gorey, County Wexford; a mushroom production facility in Suffolk; and a packing and labelling facility near Evesham in Worcestershire, UK. For further information visit www.walshmushrooms.com.

CAPTION:

Pictured (left to right): Vitali Shastak, production manager at Walsh Mushrooms Golden, and Padraic O’Leary, managing director of Walsh Mushrooms.

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EU Agri-food Exports Remain at Record Level

The monthly value of EU agri-food exports in November 2016 reached a new record level of €11.7 billion, which is €813 million higher than in November 2015. Considering a slight decrease in agri-food imports from third countries, the EU now has a trade surplus in agri-food products at €19 billion over 12 months.

Major gains in values over the 12-months period from December 2015 to November 2016 were achieved in agri-food exports to the USA (€ + 1.5 billion; +8%) and China (€ +1.1 billion; +11%). The pig meat sector is also confirming its recovery after testing times last year. Indeed, the highest increase in export value over the last 12 months was recorded for pork: €+1.3 billion which represents +34% compared to export values in the 12-months period one year ago.

This month’s report focuses on EU agri-food trade with Ecuador at the occasion of the provisional entry into force of the Protocol of Accession of Ecuador to the EU Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru in January 2017. The EU is the third largest trading partner for the Andean countries.

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EU Trade Surplus in Agri-food at €18 Billion Over 12 Months

For the 12-months period November 2015 to October 2016, EU agri-food exports reached a value of €129.9 billion, corresponding to an increase by 1.9% in value terms compared to the same period one year ago, according to the latest monthly report of EU Agri-Food Trade. Considering that agri-food imports from third countries in the 12-months period November 2015 to October 2016 slightly decreased to reach €112 billion, the export surplus for the 12-months period thus increased to more than €18 billion.

The latest figures from October 2016 show that Japan has now overtaken Russia as the 4th most important export destination of EU agri-food products after the USA, China and Switzerland. The EU net-surplus in agri-food trade with Japan has been around €5 billion annually for the last years. EU producers mainly export to Japan pork, wine and vermouth, cheese and spirits and liqueurs.

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Avian Influenza – Biosecurity Measures Key to Protecting Poultry Farms

Strict enforcement of high levels of biosecurity measures is the most effective way to prevent the introduction of the highly pathogenic influenza virus A (H5N8) into poultry farms, says EFSA.

EFSA experts have identified and ranked a set of biosecurity measures that can be implemented in different areas of a farm that are classified as high or low risk – such as, respectively, a poultry house or places where feed is stored. These measures include preventing contact between wild birds and poultry, indoor housing of birds, and keeping geese and ducks separate from other poultry.

EFSA recommends the development of biosecurity guidance tailored to the needs of   individual farms, preferably before an outbreak.

The European Commission asked EFSA to deliver urgent scientific advice on the effectiveness of protection measures currently in place to prevent further spread of the H5N8 virus. This request follows the outbreaks of the virus reported among wild birds and poultry across Europe since the end of October 2016.

Other findings of EFSA’s Statement are:

  • When affected wilds birds are detected, monitoring of poultry should be applied to a geographical area defined by the habitat and flight distance of the affected birds. Moreover, competent authorities should raise awareness among farmers of biosecurity measures in such areas.
  • Passive surveillance – reports of dead birds – is the most effective way to detect the virus in wild birds and poultry.
  • Testing samples from species of wild birds previously not known to be affected by the virus and from areas where the virus has not been yet reported is useful to determine the geographical spread of the virus in wild birds.

Next Steps

EFSA experts will deliver a scientific opinion on avian influenza in 2017.  The scientific opinion will assess the risk of other avian influenza viruses entering the EU, analyse biosecurity measures for turkeys and ducks and evaluate the mechanisms responsible for the mutation of low pathogenic avian influenza to high pathogenic avian influenza viruses.

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Irish Agri-tech Firm BHSL Secures €13 Million in UK Sales

Irish agri-tech business BHSL has agreed €13 million in sales of its pioneering manure-to-energy technology which is aimed at transforming the environmental impact of the global poultry industry. The 8 new BHSL Energy Centre units are being sold to large UK poultry farms and will all be installed by March 2017.

The patented technology will be shipped from BHSL’s plant in Ballagh, County Limerick, and represents the first fruits of an expansion strategy announced by the company’s chairman Denis Brosnan upon his appointment in October.

BHSL’s technology converts poultry manure into energy, which is then used to provide heating for future batches of chicks. BHSL’s system is the only one available that meets both US and EU environmental regulations, and allows farmers to use manure for power and heat rather than the traditional practice of transporting and spreading it on land as a fertiliser which is increasingly restricted by law due to pollution concerns.

This week BHSL also celebrated a world industry first, with technology it has installed in Maryland in the US and Norfolk in the UK producing electricity for the first time. The ability to generate electricity in addition to heat allows farmers use the power generated for other purposes on farm when there is less demand for heat in the poultry houses. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) solutions which generate electricity will also help farmers play their part in meeting the EU’s 2020 renewable energy targets

BHSL estimates that farms may be able to meet all their energy needs by using their manure as a fuel, thereby reducing costs and improving the sustainability of intensive poultry production.

BHSL has also expanded its sales team, adding 5 new employees to focus on opportunities in Poland, German and the Netherlands, in addition to existing sales and marketing initiatives in the US and UK.

BHSL recently commenced a process to raise at least €7 million in new equity to support its global expansion and open offices in the US, continental Europe and the Middle East. It expects to complete this process by the end of February.

BHSL Managing Director Declan O’Connor comments: “We are very pleased to have agreed sales of 8 new units in recent months, as we implement our commercialisation strategy, and poultry farmers become more aware of the cost savings and environmental regulatory benefits of using our technology. We are preparing for a busy period in the months ahead, with the aim to make sales in excess of €40m in the company’s next financial year.”

BHSL’s founder and Director of Research & Development Jack O’Connor says: “It was always the desire to generate electricity in addition to heat, and it is an exciting milestone to have now achieved this at sites in both the UK and US. Poultry farms have big electricity bills and there is enough manure created to provide both heat and electricity. In fact by generating electricity all the manure on a site can be utilised, completely removing the need to land spread manure which is increasingly considered a pollutant and restricted by law.”

Farmers who use BHSL’s system can benefit from:

  • Reduced environmental impact: A significant reduction in the environmental impact thereby ensuring compliance with an increasingly strict regulatory environment, both in the US and EU
  • Lower energy costs: A potential 95% reduction in energy costs through using heat from the manure as a source for heating a new batch of chicks, who must be started at a temperature of 32 degrees celsius/90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Improved animal welfare: Improved biosecurity and animal welfare, with reduced risk of diseases
  • Improved performance: Faster growth – chicks reaching target weight 3 days quicker
  • Additional revenue: Revenue earned from the sale of excess electricity and a (non-polluting) fertiliser by-product.

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€17.6 Million Strategic Research Partnership Between Origin Enterprises and University College Dublin

Origin Enterprises, the Irish agri-services group, and University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland’s largest university, have announced the establishment of a dedicated digital, precision agriculture and crop science collaborative research partnership, supported through the Science Foundation Ireland (‘SFI’) Strategic Partnership Programme. This is a €17.6 million five-year research programme.

The collaboration encompasses a strong multi and inter-disciplinary approach, combining the leading expertise of UCD in data science and agricultural science with Origin’s integrated crop management research, systems capabilities and extensive on-farm knowledge exchange networks.

A cornerstone of the partnership will be the creation of scalable, dynamic and integrated crop models which incorporate consistent and real-time data driven and data analytical approaches that optimise sustainable crop performance through enabling enhanced predictive intelligence capabilities at field level.

Origin’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom O’Mahony comments: “We are delighted to join forces and collaborate with UCD, a world-leading academic institution in agricultural science with excellent credentials in multi-disciplinary research. We are particularly pleased with the support of Science Foundation Ireland under its Strategic Partnership Programme, the aim of which is to foster and develop partnerships of scale.”

He adds: “The collaboration provides Origin with a development platform which accesses the very substantial intellectual capacity, advanced data analytics, sensing technologies and modelling resources of UCD.  The merging of conventional crop science and agronomic application with digital technology and prescriptive data analytics will enhance Origin’s knowledge-intensive offering along with improving the capacity to scale our service.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, says: “This is a very exciting research partnership announced today between Origin and UCD, which will put Irish research at the forefront of new and innovative approaches for future farming systems. The multi-disciplinary research teams at UCD will use our research expertise in data science and agriculture, together with Origin’s industry experts, to address the issue of crop sustainability, a major global food security challenge.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, SFI and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland, says: “The SFI Strategic Partnership Programme supports unique research partnerships with strong potential for impact on the Irish economy. Investing in research that enhances the agri-food industry while protecting our natural resources is vital for Ireland’s future. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support this partnership between UCD and Origin. Combining the resources and expertise from these organisations will secure Ireland’s international position in the field of data-driven agriculture. The proposed integrated crop model will have global implications in the sustainable production of crops, addressing the challenge of food production for a rapidly expanding global population.”

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New Appointments in Teagasc Food Research Programme

Teagasc (Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority) has just put in place a new structure for its food research programme. The Food Research programme is headed up by Dr Mark Fenelon and is located across two campuses at Ashtown in Dublin and Moorepark in County Cork. As part of the re-structuring, a new Food Quality and Sensory Science department has been introduced, increasing the number of departments from four to five.

Dr Fenelon says: “Restructuring, while facilitating the introduction of new scientific areas, also extends the existing research, and should allow Teagasc to provide better support for the growing number of external stakeholders.”

The following people have just been appointed to manage these food research Departments:

  • Ms Ciara McDonagh – Head of Food Industry Development Department;
  • Dr Geraldine Duffy – Head of Food Safety Department;
  • Dr John Tobin – Head of Food Chemistry & Technology Department;
  • Dr Eimear Gallagher – Head of Food Quality & Sensory Science Department;
  • Dr Paul Cotter – Head of Food Biosciences Department.

Director of Research at Teagasc, Dr Frank O Mara comments: “Teagasc has recently completed a Technology Foresight exercise focused on identification of key technologies capable of driving competitiveness and sustainable growth within the Irish agri-food sector.  This strategy coupled with increased input from industry and other state agencies, including funding agencies, provides the template from which Teagasc will continue to build its food programme and increase its impact.”

Dr Mark Fenelon adds: “Core areas of research are being strengthened with the inclusion of new themes within the programme that align Teagasc food research priorities with the Food Wise 2025 strategy for the Irish Agri-Food industry. These include life- stage nutrition and healthy eating, application of sensory science and flavour chemistry, emerging technologies and food fermentation.”

CAPTION:

Ms Ciara McDonagh, Head of the Teagasc Food Industry Development Department; Dr Eimear Gallagher, Head of the Teagasc Food Quality & Sensory Science Department; and Dr Geraldine Duffy, Head of the Teagasc Food Safety Department

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Nestlé and USAID Partner For High Quality Maize in Ghana

Nestlé and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are partnering to help farmers in Ghana produce high quality maize. The goal is to reduce mycotoxins, a natural, fungal contamination of crops that can damage health and lead to financial ruin for farmers.

The USAID Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) programme team will train over 113,000 farmers on procedures developed by Nestlé to reduce the mycotoxins in maize to acceptable levels. It will also support them to produce maize that meets Nestlé’s quality standards.

The partnership reinforces Nestlé’s commitment to help farming communities to increase yields, crop quality and income level.

Nestlé is already helping train about 26,000 farmers in good agricultural and storage practices to manage grain quality and safety.

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Total Agricultural Output in the EU Down by 1.8% in 2015

The economic accounts for agriculture show that total agricultural output in the European Union (EU) stood at €411.2 billion at basic prices in 2015, down by 1.8% compared with 2014. In 2015, the equivalent of 60% of the value of agricultural output generated was spent on intermediate consumption (input goods and services), while gross value added (ie the value of output minus the value of intermediate consumption) was the equivalent of 40% (or €164.6 bn).

With €75.2 bn (or 18% of the EU total) in 2015, France had the highest total agricultural output across Member States. It was followed by Italy (€55.2 bn, or 13%), Germany (€51.5 bn, or 13%), Spain (€45.5 bn, or 11%), the United Kingdom (€29.6 bn, or 7%), the Netherlands (€26.7 bn, or 6%), Poland (€22.3 bn, or 5%) and Romania (€15.5 bn, or 4%). This information comes from final estimates issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

In 2015 compared with 2014, the value of agricultural output followed contrasting patterns between the EU Member States. The highest increase was recorded in Latvia (+8.8%), followed by Lithuania (+5.9%) and Cyprus (+4.7%). In contrast, the largest falls were registered in Luxembourg (-9.9%), Slovakia (-9.7%), the Czech Republic (-8.6%), Germany (-7.8%), Romania (-7.4%) and Finland (-7.3%).

Significant Decrease in Animal Production

A change in the value of agricultural production is influenced by a price change or a volume change (or a combination of the two). The 1.8% decrease in EU agricultural output in 2015 compared with 2014 can be mainly attributed to a marked fall (by 5.5%) in the value of animal production, whose 8.5% decrease in prices was only partially offset by a 3.3% increase in volumes. This overall decrease in the value of animal production is due to steep falls by 14.4% for milk (-15.7% for prices; +1.5% for volume) and by 6.5% for pigs (-10.1% for prices; +4.0% for volume).

The value of crop output remained nearly stable in the EU (+0.9%) with prices up by 3.9% and volume down by 2.9%. Increases of 7.2% registered for vegetables (+7.6% for prices; -0.4% for volume) and of 10.4% for fruits (+8.1% for prices; +2.1% for volume) were partly compensated by decreases of 5.6% for cereals (-1.9% for prices; -3.8% for volume) and of 4.6% for forage plants (+1.8% for prices ; -6.3% for volume). EU agricultural input costs (intermediate consumption) are estimated to have decreased by 1.5% (+1.0% for prices; -2.5% for volume). This was partly due to a decline of 7.6% for energy and lubricants (-8.5% for prices; +1.0% for volume).

 

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Barry Callebaut Targets 100% Sustainable Chocolate By 2025

Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, has published its new sustainability strategy “Forever Chocolate” with the ambition to move sustainable chocolate from niche to norm in less than a decade.

In order to secure the future of chocolate, Barry Callebaut’s new sustainability strategy includes four targets that the company expects to achieve by 2025 and that address the biggest sustainability challenges in the chocolate supply chain:

1 Eradicate child labor from its supply chain;

2 Lift more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty

3 Become carbon and forest positive

4 Have 100% sustainable ingredients in all its products.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, chief executive of Barry Callebaut, comments: “We have been pioneering sustainability in cocoa and chocolate for many years, and we have made great progress. But despite all our efforts, only 23% of the cocoa beans we source are from sustainability programs. We are determined to step change this and have 100% of our chocolate and its ingredient sustainably sourced by 2025.”

barrycallebautforeverchocolateAntoine de Saint-Affrique elaborates: “The targets we have set ourselves after a thorough materiality analysis are bold, and we recognize that we do not have all the answers. What we know for sure is that we cannot reach these targets by ourselves. That is why we intend to start a movement that also includes governments, NGOs, consumers and our customers. Sustainable chocolate is as much about governments creating an enabling policy environment and enforcing legislation, NGOs creating awareness and consumers making sustainable choices, as it is about industry commitment and investment. ‘Forever Chocolate’ is an open invitation to work with us in finding structural solutions to the sustainability challenges in the chocolate supply chain. Without sustainability, there cannot be growth. By taking on the challenges we face as an industry, we will make ‘Forever Chocolate’ a reality.”

Barry Callebaut will publish each year a report on the progress it is making towards the four targets it has defined.

With annual sales of about SFr6.7 billion (Eur 6.1 billion) in fiscal year 2015/16, the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group operates more than 50 production facilities worldwide and employs close to 10,000 people. The Barry Callebaut Group serves the entire food industry, from industrial food manufacturers to artisanal and professional users of chocolate, such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakers, hotels, restaurants or caterers. The two global brands catering to the specific needs of these Gourmet customers are Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®.

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Do Food Retailers Hold the Key to Small Scale AD Success?

The move towards sustainable food retailing shows no sign of slowing down, with consumers more aware of environmental issues than ever before. Research from Globescan revealed that 92 per cent of shoppers think food companies should focus their efforts on securing the future sustainability of food, with two-thirds believing that farmers should be paid more for their produce. As more food retailers start to reap the benefits of marketing lower carbon products, will they now put their money where their mouth is and support the supply chain in developing new anaerobic digestion (AD) infrastructure?

“The vast majority of the UK’s 200 on-farm AD plants have been built with Feed-in Tariff support,” says Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA). “With that incentive heavily reduced and constrained, we are now looking at how we build the next 200. As many retailers enjoy the ‘green halo’ that comes from marketing low carbon products, is it now time for incentive cuts to be compensated by the support of supermarkets and large food retailers?”

The role that retailers can play in the future of AD is just one of the topics on the agenda at the ADBA National Conference 2016, taking place at One Great George Street, Westminster on 8 December. Now in its eighth year, the 2016 event will bring together industry, academia and policy makers to assess how the UK’s changing relationship with the world and the priorities of a new government can create future opportunities. Key speakers include Matthew Bell (Committee on Climate Change), Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP, Richard Court (National Grid), Chris Huhne (Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate), Alison Fergusson (Ofwat), Iain Gulland (Zero Waste Scotland) and David Newman (President, World Biogas Association).

Taking a lead on food waste

Another keynote speaker at the ADBA National Conference is WRAP’s Dr Richard Swannell, who will present on the current global food waste challenge and how food waste recycling and AD can help reduce food waste. “The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 sets out a clear challenge to tackle food waste. The aim is to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reduce food losses along production and supply chains. There is a strong case to reduce food waste and to increase separate collection and recycling around the world, not only for the benefit of the environment but also consumers, food producers and the AD industry. My talk will consider how the world might manage food waste more successfully, looking at the scale of the challenge ahead of us and also the size of the prize for the sector.”

adindustry2november2016Global AD industry set to reach $1trn and deliver green energy more cheaply than coal

The rewards to be had are great – with its current value set at $19.5bn, significant improvements in AD efficiency and plant operation, through advances in R&I currently being discussed, will see the global biogas industry growing exponentially and producing green energy more cheaply than coal. At the same time AD will be playing a critical role in addressing some of the world’s most imminent and critical challenges, including climate change, waste recycling, wastewater treatment and sanitation, and food and energy security.

According to Charlotte Morton, the UK’s strong research and development base – in partnership with its mature and robust operational sector which comprises over 540 AD plants – means the UK is well placed to take a leading role in the global AD revolution: “Improving the AD process – for example, by looking at ways to match the digestion efficiency being achieved in nature – is just one area of focus for our world-leading academic researchers. With a return to a more supportive policy environment, this could start to deliver the industry’s huge potential around the world. The UK has a golden opportunity to be a global leader in what has the potential to become a $1 trillion biogas industry, exporting expertise and equipment worth billions of pounds, and creating tens of thousands of jobs to replace those being lost in the fossil fuel industries.”

The scale of the opportunity will be a key topic at the ADBA National Conference, which will also cover why England is still lagging behind Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in regard to separate food waste collections; where green gas fits in the UK’s energy strategy; how water sector deregulation is changing organic waste markets; and how the biomethane sector will develop between 2017-2021.

For the full programme and to book your place, go to adbioresources.org.

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European Milk Package Strengthens Dairy Producers’ Position in the Supply Chain

The European Commission has published the second report on the operation of the so-called Milk Package, a series of measures launched in 2012 to strengthen the position of European dairy producers in the supply chain. The report shows that after three years of implementation, European farmers are increasingly using the tools provided by the Milk Package, such as collective negotiation of contract terms via producer organisations, or the use of written contracts. The measure allowing collective negotiation is designed to reinforce the bargaining power of milk producers, whilst written contracts offer better transparency and traceability to farmers.

The report was initially due to be delivered in 2018, but in light of the continuing difficulties in the dairy sector, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan decided to fast-track the report to the end of 2016. This commitment was part of the series of solidarity packages for the dairy sector announced and implemented during the past year.

Phil Hogan says: “The report shows that there are measures that we can take at EU level to secure a better position for dairy farmers in the supply chain. Following on from the Agricultural Markets Task Force report last week, I see this report as further evidence for policy action, in the context of the 2017 Commission Work Programme.”

The report also examines further possibilities for dairy farmers. For example, it highlights the potential of two key instruments of the Milk Package – Producer Organisations (POs) and collective negotiations – which are not yet fully exploited by Member States, producers’ and farmers’ organisations, and outlines various ways of making these more effective both at EU and Member State level.

Member States are, in particular, encouraged to take the necessary steps to foster the creation of producer organisations with collective actions that go beyond collective bargaining, thus enhancing producers’ weight in the milk supply chain. In addition to these recommendations, consideration should be given to expand the role of Inter-Branch Organisations (IBOs).

For the full potential of the Milk Package’s possibilities to materialise, the report concludes that an extension of its application beyond 2020 should be considered.

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Report Highlights Economic Importance of Scottish Red Meat Industry

The importance of red meat production to both the national economy of Scotland and the country’s rural areas, is very clearly highlighted in an independent new report commissioned by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). The report, ‘An Assessment of the Economic Contribution of Scotland’s Red Meat Supply Chain’, reveals that the red meat supply chain in Scotland contributes around £2.4 billion to total output.

This equates to a £733 million contribution to Scotland’s Gross Domestic Product and provides employment totalling 33,000 jobs. The report also clearly lays out the Scottish red meat industry’s very considerable importance in terms of employment in rural areas through jobs created by farming and meat processing.

The report accounts for production as far along the red meat chain as abattoirs and cutting plants. The figures would be significantly higher if the economic impact further downstream, including the wholesalers and multiple and independent retailers plus food outlets were also included.

The publication, compiled by Dr Andrew Moxey of Pareto Consulting, reveals that red meat production accounts for around 40% of total farming output in Scotland. Overall cattle, sheep and pigs are found on around 20,000 holdings in Scotland of which over 14,300 are LFA specialist cattle and sheep holdings, around 2300 are non-LFA cattle and sheep holdings and nearly 300 are specialist pig holdings.

In Scotland there are around 30 livestock markets which have a collective throughput of 2.7 million animals, with a turnover of £525 million in 2014.

The 23 licensed red meat abattoirs in Scotland generated a collective output in 2014 worth an estimated £876 million. Sixty-eight percent of their total production is sold out of Scotland to the rest of the UK, with a further nine percent sold to overseas export markets.

The important economic role of the other businesses which support the industry is also very clear in the report. Livestock haulage accounts for 108 haulage firms operating 275 vehicles registered for carrying livestock. Additionally, 201 veterinary practices are registered for treating farm animals and there are 113 feed suppliers.

“As well as clearly laying out the way in which red meat production underpins Scotland’s agricultural output, the report also highlights the role it plays in social sustainability and in the maintenance of Scotland’s landscape,” says Iain Macdonald, Senior Economics Analyst, QMS.

The report also clearly identifies there are opportunities to increase the contribution the industry makes to Scotland’s economy.

“The main routes identified for achieving this include the retention of more animals in Scotland and the wider adoption of best practice at farm level,” says Iain Macdonald. “The other key opportunities identified for driving growth in our industry are greater collaboration and information sharing across the supply chain.”

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Teagasc National Dairy Conference – 6th & 7th December, 2016

The Teagasc National Dairy Conference is taking place on 6 December at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork and on 7 December at the Mullingar Park Hotel, Co Westmeath.  ‘Technologies for Success’ is the theme for this year’s conference.

Announcing details of the event, Dr Tom O Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “Dairy farmers have come through a difficult milk price environment in 2016 and in 2015, but there are now rays of light emerging on international dairy markets. This year’s conference will focus on how Irish dairy farmers can position their businesses to exploit the technologies available to ensure they continue to be competitive milk producers in a European and international context.”

Dr O Dwyer said: “This is a great opportunity for all involved in dairy farming and the dairy industry to learn about new ideas, share information, get answers to questions and, probably most importantly, be inspired to take action.  Teagasc has planned a farmer focussed, practical conference and has invited a stellar line-up of speakers to take part. “

This year’s conference follows the format adopted successfully at last year’s event, with a mixture of presentations and workshop sessions. Dr Pat Dillon, Head of Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation programme Teagasc will present the keynote address focussing on his assessment of how Irish dairy farming is positioned in 2016, with a particular emphasis on whether or not it is well positioned to avail of future growth opportunities. Pete and Anne Morgan, New Zealand dairy farmers, will tell their story of how they have built robustness into their dairy farming business so as to develop a sustainable business across a range of milk prices.

TeagascLogoThese will be followed with a panel discussion with three leading dairy farmers. They will discuss the critical success factors which are important to their farming businesses.

In the afternoon there will be six workshops and attendees can choose three to attend.  The workshops this year cover a varied range of topics with a great mix of Teagasc, other professional and farmer presenters.  All of the workshops will be interactive, with plenty of time for audience involvement.

Workshops

  • What has clover to offer to Irish dairy farmers?
  • What is your farm’s breakeven milk price for 2017?
  • What AI bulls should you use in 2017?
  • What steps can you take to reduce calf scour in spring 2017?
  • What are the causes and solutions to a herd lameness problem?
  • “Your health is your wealth”… are you looking after yourself?

To book a place at the conference, visit www.teagasc.ie . Pre booking is essential.

 

CAPTION:

Pictured in Moorepark at the launch of the Teagasc National Dairy Conference on ‘Technologies for Success’ which takes place in Rochestown, Cork on 6th December and Mullingar on 7th December are speakers John Phelan, Kilmeaden; Brendan Smiddy, Teagasc, Cork East Region; Anne-Marie Butler, Ulster Bank; Donald Bateman, Cahir and Michael Gowen, Kilworth. Photo O’Gorman Photography.

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Manor Farm Named Food Producer of the Year at Irish Agribusiness Awards

Irish chicken producer Manor Farm was named Food Producer of the Year at the Agribusiness Awards. The competition received more than 200 entries from participating companies throughout Ireland. The chicken producer’s commitment to innovation and sustainability were the two major themes in winning the prestigious award.

Vincent Carton, Managing Director of Manor Farm, praises ” the dedication and commitment of the team at Manor Farm in helping to drive the company’s business values of innovation and sustainability.”

The agri food sector in Ireland accounts for more than 7% of Ireland’s GDP according to the CSO. Manor Farm is an important contributor to the agri-food sector in Ireland and to the local economy. Based in Shercock, Co. Cavan, the family owned company employs more than 800 people, and a further 1,000 indirectly, from farmers growing wheat and other grains to suppliers.

Ireland has one of the highest consumption rates of poultry consumption in Europe. The consumption of poultry accounts for one third of the nation’s total meat consumption.

Manor Farm is a 100% Irish and family owned food producing business. The Carton family has been producing Irish chicken since the late 18th Century.   All of Manor Farm’s chickens are produced in Ireland and are fully traceable. Manor Farm is a member and firm supporter of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme. The producer’s commitment to sustainability focuses on reducing emissions to air, water and land; reducing waste; and using energy and resources efficiently.

CAPTION:

Pictured (from left to right): Justin Carton of  Manor Farm; Tom Kelly of Enterprise Ireland; Joyce Jonston of Manor Farm; and John McHale of Manor Farm.

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Cherkizovo Group Building New Meat Processing Plant in Russia

Cherkizovo Group, the largest vertically integrated meat and feed producer in Russia, has commenced construction of a new meat processing plant in the Kashira district of the Moscow region. When completed, this new plant will be the largest of its kind in Europe.

With total investment into the project expected to reach RUB6 billion (€88 million), this will be the largest food industry investment in the Moscow region.

The 80 tons per day production capacity of this new facility outstrips that of any other meat processing plant in Europe. It will be fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the highest quality and biosafety of the end products. Energy-efficient technologies will also be implemented as the sausage production process will be fully automated using raw materials from the Group’s other segments.

cherkizovomeatprocessingUpon completion, the plant will employ 150 people and Cherkizovo Group expects to pay additional taxes of over RUB3 billion to the region over the next five years.

The Kashira meat processing plant marks the company’s next step to further expand its presence in the Moscow region, which is one of the most attractive places to do business in Russia. Cherkizovo Group is currently the largest poultry producer in the region and its Mosselprom and Petelino poultry production facilities, as well as its Ozherelye feed mill, are all located in the region. The proup currently employs a total of 6,000 people in the Moscow region.

Cherkizovo Group is one of the top three companies serving Russia’s meat processing market and manufactures a wide selection of high-quality meat products. Cherkizovo Group has been a public company since 2006. Its shares are traded on the Moscow Exchange, and its Global Depository Receipts (GDR) are traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The family of Igor Babaev, the founder of Cherkizovo Group, controls 65% of the company’s equity.

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Impact of Future Trade Agreements on EU Agricultural Sector

The European Commission has produced a study on the cumulative effects of 12 future trade agreements on the agri-food sector, including specific results for producer prices and production volumes for a range of products accounting for 30% of the value of the EU exports in the sector. The study illustrates the potential for European agricultural products on the world market, while at the same time also showing the sensitivity of specific agricultural sectors.

The Commission also published the latest agri-food trade figures which showed a record value for EU agri-food exports in September 2016 of almost €11.5 billion, confirming the opportunities for the sector. The detailed knowledge on the potential impacts that the present study on future trade agreements provides will allow the Commission to make informed choices during the negotiation process. The study as such is not a prediction or forecast but a highly theoretical exercise with many limitations reflecting potential outcomes of the successful conclusion of the agreements covered.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen says: “The overall picture is positive for high-value European agricultural exports. This study shows that there are sensitivities, however, it focuses on only one part of agricultural sector and does not measure a number of agri-food products which have significant export growth potential. This balance is fully reflected in the EU’s trade negotiating strategy, in which we seek to protect our vulnerable sectors through measures such as tariff rate quotas, while maximising our positive interests whenever possible. Growth in the area of processed food, in particular, also has positive knock-on effects for the primary production sector. EU exports of agricultural commodities support 1.4 million jobs and another 650,000 jobs in the processed foods sector also depend on our ability to export. The EU economy as a whole benefits greatly from trade as shown by the recent free trade agreement with South-Korea.”

DairygoldCowsSignificant gains are anticipated for the EU dairy and pig meat sectors, two sectors which have struggled in recent years and which are now showing signs of recovery. On the other hand, the study shows vulnerabilities for beef and rice, both in terms of trade effects and a decline in producer prices. The extent of the impact for these different products varies depending on whether one looks at the more “ambitious” (full liberalisation of 98.5% of all products, and a partial tariff cut of 50% for the remaining products) or more “conservative” (full liberalisation of 97%, and 25% tariff cut for the others) scenarios of the study.

The results of the study also confirm that the EU’s current approach of limiting the liberalisation of imports of sensitive agricultural products in all trade negotiations is the right one. In the case of the agreement recently reached with Canada (known as CETA), the EU will eliminate 92.2% of its agricultural tariffs at entry into force of the deal (reaching 93.8% after seven years). The TRQ agreed for beef in CETA amounts to 45,838 tonnes, to be phased in over 5 years and corresponding to about 0.6% of total EU consumption. Another example is rice: in the trade deal with Vietnam, the EU will only partially liberalise imports of rice, with the rice TRQs representing about 8 per cent of total EU imports, two thirds of which will be earmarked for rice not produced within the EU or to be further processed by the EU rice industry.

The outcome of the study has been presented to EU Ministers and it is expected that a further discussion will take place in the Agriculture Council under the Maltese Presidency in January. The study on the cumulative effects on agriculture does not replace the broader and more detailed impact assessments and sustainable impact assessments carried out for each trade negotiation.

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Irish Businesses Urged to Help Save the Bees!

Irish businesses are being called on to take action in helping to save the bees. The National Biodiversity Date Centre and Bord Bia have launched a Framework for Businesses as part of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, which identifies actions that companies can take to help protect pollinators and the livelihoods of farmers who rely on their invaluable pollination service.

Companies are being urged to sign up and implement the plan’s business guidelines. The guidelines suggest 18 practical actions that any business can take in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Some of the actions include:

  • protecting areas that are providing food and shelter for pollinators
  • mowing lawns using a pollinator friendly regimen
  • install a bee or insect hotel
  • raising awareness in your community or supply chain
  • planting pollinator friendly bulbs, trees, shrubs and flower beds
  • and reducing the use of pesticides.

The Importance of Bees and Pollinators

Pollinators, especially bees, make up an important part of Ireland’s biodiversity. Irish pollinators are in decline, with one third of Ireland’s 98 bee species threatened by extinction in Ireland. The annual value of pollinators for human food crops is at least €53 million. Dr. Jane Stout, deputy chair of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan Steering Group, says: “Without pollinators it would be impossible for farmers or gardeners to affordably produce many of the fruits and vegetables we need for a healthy diet. Pollinators are also necessary for a healthy environment and landscape. Without them, the 78% of wild plants in Ireland that require insect pollination would disappear.The overall strategy, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, makes Ireland one of the first countries in Europe with an approach to address this problem.”

Commenting on the Irish agri-food industry’s efforts, Jim O’Toole, Bord Bia’s director of sustainable development, says: “Bord Bia has worked closely with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to support the implementation of the Pollinator Plan through Origin Green, it’s national sustainability programme for the agri-food industry. Support of the Pollinator Plan offers businesses multiple benefits, such as demonstration of their sustainability credentials and a way of differentiating a business to key customers who require strong sustainability commitments in an increasingly competitive market. Together with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, we are asking businesses. regardless of their sector or size or land holdings to play an active role in helping pollinators.”

Business Benefits

Along with the business benefits that come from supporting the Pollinator Plan, registered companies will receive a certificate of participation, as well as support in developing plans to take pollinator friendly actions within the business. Once businesses have taken pollinator friendly actions, they may also receive recognition for their work by logging their efforts on the publicly available mapping system, ‘Actions for Pollinators’. Furthermore, commitment to the plan encourages and increases employee engagement through relevant training and events and improves employee health and wellbeing, as well as supporting community engagement and strengthening relationships with local groups.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015 – 2020

Last year, the National Biodiversity Date Centre and Bord Bia, along with 68 governmental and non-governmental organisations, came together to form a shared plan of action, to help pollinators and improve biodiversity across Ireland. The national plan provides a framework to support Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, as well as coordination and support through Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.

For more information or to sign up, visit www.biodiversityireland.ie/pollinator-plan.

CAPTION:

Pictured with an insect hotel that provides shelter for insects and is an example one of the practical actions a business can take are: Dr. Jane Stout, deputy chair of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan Steering Group, and Jim O’Toole, Bord Bia’s director of sustainable development.

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WeFarm Reaches Over 100,000 Users and Secures £1.3 Million Investment

WeFarm, a peer-to-peer agtech network that enables small-scale farmers to access and share vital agricultural information even without internet, has reached over 100,000 users and secured £1.3 million in seed funding. The round is led by LocalGlobe, a UK-based venture capital firm focused on seed investing, whose other investments include Citymapper, Lovefilm, Moo, TweetDeck, TransferWise and Zoopla. The seed round will go towards bringing the benefits of WeFarm to thousands of new farmers.

Approximately 500 million small-scale farmers around the world provide over 70% of the world’s food. However, up to 90% have no access to the internet and they are often isolated and lack access to even basic agricultural information and new ideas. With the world’s population projected to grow from 7 to 9 billion by 2050 and climate change an entrenched reality, increased pressures on the global food supply chain will only persist. Farmers and businesses without access to problem-solving technologies and data are at risk of being left behind.

WeFarm has developed a peer-to-peer mobile network which enables small-scale farmers to access crowdsourced information and advice from other farmers, even when offline. By sending a free SMS, farmers can receive accurate answers to any agricultural queries. The service uses machine learning technology to connect incoming questions to those users on the system who have the most relevant knowledge. Topics discussed on the network range from how to stop baby chicks from dying to where to find a market to sell onions.

WeFarm launched in 2015 and now boasts a community of over 100,000 farmers across Kenya, Uganda and Peru.  This is an unprecedented rate of growth considering the ‘off-grid’ nature of their end users, and to date they have used the service a huge amount; sharing more than 15 million pieces of information. In 2015 WeFarm was part of the Wayra UK accelerator in London, which supported the business in its growth trajectory.

wefarmconnectWeFarm Founder & CEO, Kenny Ewan, says: “Connecting farmers to relevant advice from other farmers is a completely new approach. The majority of information delivered to people living in poverty is top-down, whereas we are using a crowdsourcing model to unlock generations worth of grassroots knowledge, ideas, and experience among farmers. This is why WeFarm has already secured more than 100,000 registered members in an industry where less than 0.1 % of mobile apps ever reach even half that number.”

LocalGlobe partner Saul Klein says: “WeFarm is building and empowering a community of farmers, dramatically improving their experience of obtaining advice. In doing so, WeFarm has created an SMS and web-based network that’s enjoying real user growth and engagement. We believe that this network, whether delivered on feature or smart phones, will, over time, become an important channel for farmers into the wider food supply chain. We are thrilled that WeFarm has reached over 100,000 users and look forward to working with Kenny and his team.”

Kenny Ewan continues: “In five years time we want to connect 100 million small-scale farmers to our network. There is still massive global inequality around access to information, but by designing services for basic mobiles phones you can create social impact on an unprecedented scale as well as develop a highly profitable social business.”

As a result of WeFarm’s crowdsourcing approach, the firm is also generating unique user data on the world’s supply chain and commodities, as well as on populations in the developing world who are yet to have internet access. WeFarm generates revenue by supplying actionable insights to businesses, NGOs and governments. The impact of this important data could be extremely significant in the fight to eradicate poverty and hunger in the developing world. Using this data, governments can track major issues such as disease and drought, and businesses can save millions of pounds by preventing crop diseases from ravaging their supply chains.

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New Record in EU Agri-food Exports in September 2016

The monthly value of EU agri-food exports in September 2016 reached a record value of almost €11.5 billion exceeding the export values in September of previous years by about €500 million. Highest increases in monthly export values (September 2016 compared to September 2015) were recorded for the USA and Japan. Agri-food exports to other Asian countries also increased notably (South Korea, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong).

Analysing the EU export performance over the last 12 months per product category, export values increased in particular for pig meat (+€1.2 billion; +31% compared to export values in the 12-months period one year ago), fresh vegetables (+€480 million; +18%), meat offal, other meat and fat , olive oil, food preparations and live animals. However, exports of milk powders lost most in export values in the last 12 months.

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Budget For Promoting EU Agricultural Products is Increased

EU producers will receive an increased budget of €133 million in 2017 to promote EU agricultural products outside and inside the EU and to continue finding new markets. The European Commission has adopted the 2017 promotion strategy for EU agricultural products with a total budget of €133 million compared to the €111 million available for 2016. This amount will co-finance several programmes, most of which will target third countries and regions, including China, Middle East, North America, South-East Asia and Japan.

A call for proposals to benefit from the 2017 promotion budget will be launched in January 2017 at the latest. Proposing organisations can apply and their campaigns, usually rolling over three years, will be co-financed by the European Commission at rates of 70-85%.

The 2017 budget represents a clear increase compared with the €111 million from this year, outlining the support provided to EU agri-food producers. The 2016 promotion campaign is successfully following its course as the final beneficiaries were selected and will be in a position to get their campaigns started early next year. The selected campaigns, 60 of them being single programmes and 6 multi programmes* show a more diverse and broader outreach than ever. Indeed, they cover 32 third countries, compared with 23 last year, and within the two major destinations, the USA and China, they go well beyond the most targeted areas of New York and Beijing. The products which will be the most advertised in the campaigns are fruits and vegetables (30% of the programmes), followed by meat (17%) and dairy products (15%). This reflects the importance of promotion policy to support sectors experiencing difficult market situations, like dairy and pigmeat.

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RT14 Calls Stakeholders to Collaborate For a Truly Sustainable Palm Oil Industry

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) 14th Annual Roundtable Meeting (RT14) urged corporate leaders, NGOs, policy makers and academics to step up and join forces to ensure an effective and sustainable palm oil ecosystem. Following the success of the RSPO NEXT discussion last year, which called for stakeholders “to work together, rather than competing to be more sustainable than your neighbour,” this year’s RT14 theme, “Learning to Live Together: From Vision to Transformation” is prompting stakeholders to share knowledge and practical expertise.

“Inclusive partnership is more crucial than ever at this stage as we embrace the concept of market transformation in committing of not leaving anyone behind. Stakeholders must increase their participation to improve effectiveness. Now comes the hard question. How do we ensure these certification schemes are benefiting sustainability? Only through strong collaboration and collective action, we will be able to achieve this vision,” said Datuk Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer of the RSPO.

The RT14 also emphasised social issues within the palm oil producing regions, related to contract labour, gender, migration and occupational health and safety and how the whole supply chain and invested stakeholders can contribute in addressing these issues, and move towards a truly sustainable future for the industry.

rspoDuring the conference, the RSPO reaffirmed its commitment to lead the change by ensuring that no stakeholders are left behind in the process of transformation, which includes the smallholders by providing them with access to global markets.

“There are over 3 million oil palm smallholders worldwide, who account for 30% of the total global production of palm oil while making up 40% of the land coverage used for palm oil cultivation. As part of RSPO’s efforts to support the smallholders, we have implemented various activities and local outreach in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and more recently Colombia and Ghana,” Datuk Webber added.

In addition, at the RT14 the RSPO launched a video campaign to promote its new RSPO Trademark Mobile App, which will allow consumers to identify and geolocate products carrying the RSPO Trademark in a bid to increase consumer awareness on Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and to help consumers have a say with their shopping choices.

The progress made on Jurisdictional approach were also highlighted at the conference. In particular, the government of Ecuador achieved a major milestone by demonstrating firm support of sustainable palm oil. The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of Ecuador’s highest producing regions. Effort is concentrated on transforming parts of the landscape that have been deforested for agricultural use with a transversal focus on sustainability. Launching a pilot programme utilising RSPO principles, the government has established coalitions with stakeholders such as palm oil companies and non-profit organisations like Ancupa and UN-REDD (UN-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

The RT14 was held in the Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok, Thailand from 9th to 10th November 2016 and was attended by H.E. General Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand along with over 800 representatives from leading figures in the palm oil industry, corporate leaders in sustainability, financial institutions, policymakers, and academics as well as social and environmental NGOs from 46 countries.

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Dairy Crest Increases Milk Price Further

UK dairy group Dairy Crest has announced a further 1.78 ppl milk price increase from 1 December 2016. This has been agreed with Dairy Crest Direct (DCD), the independent representative body for the 400 dairy farmers who sell their milk directly to Dairy Crest. This marks the fourth consecutive monthly increase in farmgate price since September.

This means the Davidstow milk price will be 26 ppl from 1 December 2016.

Ruth Askew, Head of Procurement at Dairy Crest, says: “We are committed to investing in our supply chain and ensuring a sustainable supply of top quality milk for our leading British cheese brands – Cathedral City and Davidstow – and our growing infant formula business. During the unprecedented deflation we have seen in dairy markets over the last 18 months, Dairy Crest established a clear track record in maintaining a consistent and stable price for our dedicated pool of farmers in the South West, paying a premium above other major processors.”

DCD Chairman Steve Bone comments: “Dairy Crest has paid a consistently higher price for milk than other major liquid/cheese manufacturers during the downturn. We are pleased that in agreeing to increase the milk price for December, our members will continue to receive a market leading milk price.”

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Risk to Consumers of Pesticide Residues in Food Remains Low

Ninety-seven per cent of food samples collected in the European Union are free of pesticide residues or contain traces that are within legal limits. The conclusion is part of EFSA’s latest annual report on pesticide residues in food, which analyses the results of almost 83,000 food samples from the 28 EU Member States – including Croatia for the first time – as well as Iceland and Norway.

Jose Tarazona, Head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit, says: “The high compliance rates recorded for 2014 are in line with previous years, which means that the EU is continuing to protect consumers by controlling the presence of pesticide residues in food. Our annual report is a major undertaking that is rooted in the data we receive from Member States. It would not be possible without the commitment and expertise of our European partners, and we thank them for their contribution.”

Main findings:

* 97% of samples analysed were within legal limits.

* Of these, 53.6% were free of quantifiable residues and 43.4% contained residues that were within permitted concentrations.

* Of the samples originating from EU/EEA countries, 1.6% contained residues exceeding legal limits; the corresponding figure for samples from third countries was 6.5%.

* No quantifiable residues were found in 91.8% of baby food samples.

* 98.8% of organic products were either free of residues or contained residues within legal limits.

* EFSA used data from the report to assess whether current dietary exposure to pesticide residues presents a risk to the health of Europeans in the long term (chronic) or short term (acute). In both cases, the Authority concluded that exposure is unlikely to pose a threat to human health.

EFSALogoDr Tarazona adds: “We are always looking at ways to improve the annual report – this year, for example, thanks to the efforts of the Member states we have significantly improved the harmonisation and integration of the data submitted to EFSA. This year’s report also contains suggestions that we believe could make pesticide control programmes more efficient.”

For the 2014 report, EFSA has made a number of changes in response to requests and comments from stakeholders. For example, the report now includes greater detail on organic products and baby food, a specific section on glyphosate, and more comparisons with results from previous years.

Recommendations

EFSA has made a number of proposals to improve the effectiveness of monitoring of pesticides in the EU. These include:

* Extending the scope of the monitoring programme to food products such as small fruits, berries and tea, which were frequently identified as containing residues.

* Reducing analysis of animal products and shifting the monitoring focus to animal feed e.g. soya bean, rapeseed and barley.

* Including mandatory analysis of glyphosate in the above crops.

* Including honey in the “basket” of samples to improve understanding of exposure of bees and inform possible revision of legal limits of residues in honey.

* Improving communication of changes to permitted residue levels to importers of food from outside the EU.

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Organic Crop Area on the Rise in the EU

With more than 11 million hectares of certified area or area under conversion in 2015, organic farming made up 6.2% of the European Union’s (EU) total utilised agricultural area (UAA). Since 2010, the area devoted to organic farming has grown by almost two million hectares. Similarly, an upward trend can be observed for the number of registered organic producers. At the end of 2015, 271,500 organic agricultural producers were registered in the EU, an increase of 5.4% compared with 2014.

Among Member States, Spain, Italy, France and Germany registered the largest organic areas as well as the largest numbers of organic producers in 2015, accounting together for over half (52%) of both total EU organic crop area and organic producers in the EU.

The part of agricultural land farmed organically differs widely between EU Member States. The highest share of crop area dedicated to organic farming was registered in Austria, with one fifth (20%, or 552 thousand hectares) of its total agricultural area farmed organically in 2015. It was followed by Sweden (17%, or 519 thousand hectares) and Estonia (16%, or 156 thousand hectares). Alongside these top performers, the Czech Republic (14%, or 478 thousand hectares), Italy (12%, or 1 493 thousand hectares) and Latvia (12%, or 232 thousand hectares) also reported over 10% of agricultural land farmed organically.

In contrast, organic farming was not strongly developed in three Member States with the area under organic farming below 2% of agricultural land: in Malta (0.3%, or 30 hectares), Ireland (1.6%, or 73 thousand hectares) and Romania (1.8%, or 246 thousand hectares). It should be noted that the importance of the organic sector is generally lower in regions with plains where more intensive production systems prevail.

At EU level, the area dedicated to production of organic crops in 2015 has increased by 21% since 2010 to slightly more than 11 million hectares, with the landmark of 10 million hectares having been reached in 2012. Organic land area has risen over this period in all Member States, except the United Kingdom (-29%) and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands (-4%). In contrast, Croatia (from 16 thousand hectares of organic land in 2010 to almost 76 thousand hectares in 2015, or +377%) and Bulgaria (+362%) recorded an almost fourfold increase of their land devoted to organic farming. They were followed at a distance by France (+61%), Ireland (+53%), Lithuania (+49%) and Cyprus (+48%).

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First Research Partnership in the Mediterranean to Increase Food and Water Sustainability

The European Commission has presented a proposal for a Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area – PRIMA. The first partnership of its kind in the Mediterranean basin aims to develop much-needed novel solutions for sustainable water management and food production.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, says: “EU research and innovation is open to the world so we can tackle global challenges together. This Euro-Mediterranean partnership is an excellent example of where pooling knowledge and money can make a huge difference. It will bring more clean water and food to the people, boost local economies and create jobs. Through PRIMA, research and innovation will play a crucial role in addressing the root causes of migration.”

The Commission’s proposal already includes Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. The participation of Germany is currently under negotiation. As the initiative is evolving over time, more participants are expected to follow, both EU and non-EU countries.

Funding for the €400 million partnership will come from the participating countries (currently around €200 million), matched by a €200 million contribution from the EU through its current research framework programme Horizon 2020. The partnership is scheduled to run for 10 years, starting in 2018.

In recent years, the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean has been suffering from severe water shortages and decreasing crop yields. Today, 180 million people in the Mediterranean basin are considered ‘water poor’. The lack of clean water and nutritious food has adverse effects on the health and stability of the populations.

Based on a proposal of nine Member States in 2014, this partnership will be created under Horizon 2020 and based on Article 185 TFEU, which enables the EU to participate in research programmes undertaken jointly by several Member States.

The Commission’s proposal will now be sent to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for political discussion and legislative approval.

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Harnessing Irish Agricultural Know-how For Hunger and Poverty Reduction

Harnessing the knowledge of the Irish agriculture sector can significantly contribute to ending hunger and poverty for millions of people in the Developing World. Such is the belief of the founders of an innovative new consortium that has brought the Irish agriculture and research sectors together with some of the country’s leading development charities, in a bid to leverage Irish know-how to increase agriculture productivity and combat hunger in the Developing World.

Founding members of the new Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD) are the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Irish Aid, Teagasc, Agri-Science departments at NUI Galway, UCC and UCD, along with leading international development charities Gorta-Self Help Africa, Vita, Concern Worldwide, Trocaire and Misean Cara, private companies such as Sustainable Food Systems Ireland and Greenfield International and leading farmer associations  ICMSA, ICSA, IFA and Macra na Feirme.

The successful trialing in Eritrea, one of Africa’s poorest countries, of a potato variety shipped from Ireland offered a tangible example of what the new forum could achieve, the official launch of IFIAD heard, at the RDS in Dublin yesterday. Consortium members, including Teagasc, the Irish Potato Industry, Gorta-Self Help Africa and Vita had introduced the Electra variety, and provided their Eritrean counterparts with technical support and assistance. Early results showed that potato yields had tripled for Eritrean farmers as a result. Last year, Eritrea became the seventh member of the Irish Potato Forum.

Representatives from national and international agriculture, agri-business and development aid sectors attended the launch, which was addressed by Minister Joe McHugh TD, and by guest speakers including Dr Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Paul Winters, Director of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD).

The Forum’s Chair, Dr Lance O’Brien, Head of Strategy and International Relations at Teagasc, says: “this new initiative will create a platform to allow the knowledge, expertise and commitment of the Irish farming sector to be harnessed to deliver a more focused impact on addressing the challenge of food security in developing countries.”

Visit: www.ifiad.org for more information.

CAPTION:

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc, with Joe McHugh TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, and  Tom Kitts – Chairman, Gorta – Self Help Africa, at the launch of the new Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD).

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New Medicine to Protect Honey Bees Against Varroa Mites

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended the granting of a marketing authorisation in the European Union (EU) for VarroMed (oxalic acid dihydrate/formic acid). This antiparasitic medicine treats the Varroa mite infestation in honey-bee colonies, which is considered to be the most significant parasitic health concern affecting honey bees worldwide.

Honey bees are essential for pollination of crops and wild plants in Europe. The European Commission estimates that pollinators, including honey bees, bumble bees and wild bees, contribute at least Eur22 billion each year to European agriculture and pollinate over 80% of crops and wild plants on the continent.

However, beekeepers around the world have reported losses of honey-bee colonies, which are considered to be caused by a combination of different factors such as habitat loss, climate change, pesticide use, and also diseases affecting bee health. A continued decline of these pollinators could lead to serious biological, agricultural, environmental and economic difficulties.

The main parasite affecting honey bees is the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), an invasive species from Asia that has affected bee colonies worldwide. The Varroa mite feeds on the circulatory fluid of bees and brood (bee larvae) and can also contribute to the spread of viruses and bacteria.

VarroMed is intended to kill Varroa mites and is a liquid which is trickled onto bees in the hive. It contains as active substance a fixed combination of two organic acids, oxalic acid dihydrate and formic acid. Both substances have been known in veterinary medicine for a long time and are either naturally present in foods or accepted for use in foods. The medicine is not expected to pose a risk to human or animal health or the environment, if used according to the product information.

VarroMed is intended to be used as part of an integrated Varroa control programme, which includes not only treatment with medicines but also non-chemical techniques like queen trapping or drone brood removal. It can be used either as a single-dose treatment during the broodless period (winter treatment) or in the presence of brood (spring or autumn), which will usually require repeated treatments.

The CVMP opinion will now be sent to the European Commission for the adoption of a decision on an EU-wide marketing authorisation.

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British Dairy Farmers Being Short-changed to Tune of £200 Million

Market indicators show dairy farmers are being short-changed to the tune of £200 million pounds, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the UK. It is calling for milk buyers to recognise the strength of current markets and start paying fair, sustainable prices to their milk suppliers.

After two years of turmoil in the dairy sector, during which time milk prices for many farmers have been, and continue to be, below the cost of production, commodity markets have now quickly turned. Evidence shows market signals are pointing skywards with spot prices for milk now approaching 40ppl and quotes for next month hitting 50ppl.

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes says that milk buyers are lagging behind in passing on the huge lifts in market prices to their suppliers. “Since May this year market indicators have started to show a massive differential between what prices dairy farmers should have got compared to what they actually did get – between June and September this adds up to around £200 million,” he points out.

Dairy analyst Chris Walkland has being doing the sums – they show that back in August AHDB’s AMPE and MCVE indicators were 26ppl and 28ppl respectively while future price indicators continue to be positive. Even today most non-aligned prices are still at or below 20ppl with the August Defra average milk price, which included aligned prices only reaching 21.34ppl.

“Clearly milk buyers should be concerned as to where their future milk supply will come from,” comments Michael Oakes. “That’s why recently we’ve seen Dale Farm Northern Ireland encourage more milk supply for the next three months. Any extra litres. supplied to the co-operative will receive an extra 4ppl on top of a 2ppl winter premium. Farmers have been patient, understanding the time lag that is part of dairy trade. But that reason is starting to wear thin, as we need to start considering increased costs of winter housing and feeding. Our message is clear – until milk buyers start backing British dairy farmers and start paying fair, sustainable milk prices, volumes will not recover.”

Michael Oakes adds: “Dairy farmers want to produce milk and the only way milk buyers can pull the dairy sector out of this nose dive is to quickly pay them a profitable price for their milk.”

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Big Turnout at Teagasc National Beef Conference

Large numbers of beef farms attended the recent Teagasc National Beef Conference. The theme for the conference was putting ‘Practice into Profit’, and speaking at the opening of the conference, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “Teagasc through its research, advisory and education programmes will continue to play a huge role in working with farmers and the beef industry to ensure that technologies, such as those that were discussed today, would be put into practice on farms, thus leading to more sustainable and profitable beef systems on Irish farms over the coming years.”

Rob Prendiville, Teagasc researcher, presented the latest research coming from Johnstown Castle where many different systems of dairy calf-to-beef have been evaluated in recent years. His key message was: “Systems that utilise high quantities of pasture and which are focused on high output per hectare are fundamental to the profitability of calf to beef systems.”

Martin Kavanagh, consultant vet with Cow Solutions, gave a paper on the practical factors which affect calf health in indoor calf rearing systems.  Martin Kavanagh emphasised that: “The environment the young calf is in is critical in maintaining the health of bought in calves and that good management input can solve many issues that otherwise would compromise the immune system and disease burdens on these calves.”

IrishBeefCookedCompressedAlan Kehoe, a young beef farmer from County Wexford, explained how he has built up a calf to beef enterprise on his home farm since returning from Australia in 2012.  He now rears 120 calves each year and brings them through to beef.  Alan Kehoe said: “The three year plan I put in place with my Teagasc advisor set clear targets for me to achieve and by following this plan, especially in the areas of grassland management, I am on target to return a gross margin of over €1,200 per hectare from my beef enterprise in 2018.”

Thierry Pabiou of ICBF presented a paper on behalf of Laurent Griffon of the Institut de l’Elevage in Paris. He outlined how the French beef cattle performance recording system is collecting the weights from over 1.2 million beef animals on farms before they are 300 days of age, and that this level of recording is the base of the French national beef breeding scheme.  This was followed by a paper given by County Tipperary suckler farmer, David Clarke, who explained that through the recording of calving and breeding data, along with birth and weaning liveweights over a long number of years, the accuracy of the replacement index of the suckler cows on his farm were now much higher than the national average which gives him the confidence to make much more informed breeding decisions when it comes to selecting which animals he will breed from.

The last paper of the conference was presented by Teagasc geneticist, Donagh Berry, who described how over the coming years beef genomics will be about much more than just increasing the reliability of the beef breeding indices. He said: “There are many uses for genomics including parentage verification, mating advice to minimise inbreeding, monitoring of major genes or unfavourable DNA mutations, as well as increased accuracy of genetic evaluations.”

The full proceedings for the Teagasc National Beef Conference are available at

https://www.teagasc.ie/media/website/publications/2016/Beef-Conference_2016_Proceedings.pdf

CAPTION:

Pictured at the Teagasc National Beef Conference were from (L to R):  Rob Prendiville, Beef Researcher, Teagasc; Martin Kavanagh, Consultant Vet, Cow Solutions; Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc, Director; and Tom Kellegher, Regional Manager – Roscommon/Longford, Teagasc.

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160€ Million For Agricultural SMEs in Hungary

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Agrár-Vállalkozási Hitelgarancia Alapítvány (AVHGA) have signed a COSME agreement to enhance access to finance to up to 2,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) primarily in the agricultural sectors in Hungary. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe and is expected to facilitate access to HUF50 billion (€160 million) in several forms of finance for SMEs, such as investment loans, working capitals, overdraft credits and bank guarantees.

European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, says: “I am delighted to see that thanks to the Investment Plan launched by this Commission, small businesses in Hungary will now be able to obtain loans they would otherwise not have had access to. The Investment Plan has proven to be a success which is why we have proposed to increase both its financial capacity and duration. I encourage Hungarian businesses to make the most of this opportunity and use these loans to boost economic growth and job creation.”

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NFU Appoints Director For New Brexit Unit

The National Farmers Union (NFU) in Britain has appointed a director to lead its newly-created Brexit Unit as the organisation moves to strengthen and extend its political reach in the wake of the EU Referendum. Nick von Westenholz will join the NFU as Director of EU Exit and International Trade to ensure the NFU has a co-ordinated and constant presence in its Brexit conversations with government in the crucial months ahead.

The new Brexit team is part of the NFU’s strategy to refocus and strengthen both its government and external affairs teams in London, to ensure it continues to have the impact needed on behalf of its 46,000 farmer and grower members as all-important Brexit negotiations get underway.

Nick von Westenholz.

Nick von Westenholz.

NFU Director General Terry Jones says: “We have made no secret of our determination to seize the opportunities offered by the forthcoming Brexit deals to ensure that British farming has a profitable and productive future and is able to seize and capitalise on new opportunities. Farming and food production is politically and strategically important for the UK; farming provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s food and drink sector worth £108 billion, supporting 3.9 million jobs for people nation-wide as well as delivering high quality, traceable food for a growing population.”

He adds: “In the coming weeks and months ahead it is essential that food and farming is front and centre of any talks about the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world and I am confident the building blocks being put in place now will ensure the NFU is able to work with the two new Government departments, Exiting the EU and International Trade.”

Mr von Westenholz is rejoining the NFU from his current post as chief executive of the Crop Protection Association. He is a trained barrister and previously worked with the NFU as its head of government affairs. He says: “I’m delighted to be taking up this new post at the NFU at such a critical time for UK agriculture. While Brexit presents clear challenges to UK farming in the coming years, if we get it right it offers the prospect of an exciting future, both to the benefit of domestic food production and our precious natural environment. The NFU has shown a strong intent to be on the front foot in getting the best out of Brexit for British farmers and I’m immensely excited about stepping up to that task on behalf of the NFU’s members.”

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Dare to Dairy – New Technical Tour in Response to Great Demand!

In response to the great demand for participation in the Technical Tours, the Organising Committee of the IDF World Dairy Summit 2016 in Rotterdam has decided to organize another Technical Tour, in addition to the original nine Tours already offered. The new Tour is called “Farming in a Challenging environment” (Tour # 0) and deals with dairy farming in a densely populated area and the introduction of “circular economy” at the dairy farm. The Organising Committee hopes offering this additional tour will help to give all participants the opportunity to get a taste of the Dutch dairy sector.

As the booking for the Technical Tours goes fast, and some of them are nearly fully booked, its is recommended that you book your Technical Tours at your earliest convenience!

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One of Europe’s Most Renowned Potato Breeders Recognised

Harry Kehoe, the retired Potato Breeder from Teagasc, Oak Park, was conferred with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, in recognition of his lifetime’s work as a Plant Breeder. The conferring took place in UCD, on Monday 5th September 2016.

Rooster was one of more than 35 potato varieties bred by Harry Kehoe and his team at Teagasc, Oak Park,Carlow (formerly AFT). Since its launch in 1991 Rooster has become the dominant potato in the Irish market accounting for 60% of the market.

Cara has been the most successful potato variety bred in Oak Park to date, and almost 40 years after its release is still being grown in markets as diverse as the United Kingdom, Egypt and the Canary Islands. Cara was notable as one of the first successful varieties with resistance to the Globodera rostochiensis strain of Potato Cyst Nematode.

TeagascLogoHarry Kehoe commenced with An Foras Taluntais,(AFT) now Teagasc, in 1960 and retired in 2003. He led the breeding programme for over 40 years and is described in the Teagasc book Growing Knowledge – Fifty Years of Research and Development as “one of Europe’s most renowned potato breeders”. Throughout his career Harry worked closely with IPM Potato Group Ltd, and many varieties released during his tenure continue to grow and be successfully marketed in over forty countries worldwide.

He was Oak Park’s most successful potato breeder and ranks up with the great international names in potato breeding like Archibald Finley (1841-1921), Donald McKelvie (1867-1947), Dr. William Black (1903-1975), Dr Harold Howard, John Clarke, (1889- 1980) and Dr Brian Costello.

Given the importance of the potato in global food production, as the fourth major food crop in the world after wheat, rice and maize, Harry Kehoe’s achievements are leaving a lasting legacy around the globe.

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Enterprise Ireland Launches €500,000 Competitive Start Fund to Support Agricultural and Manufacturing Start-Ups

The Irish Government has launched a new €500,000 Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund to support start-up activity in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The Enterprise Ireland Fund, which provides €50,000 in equity funding for each successful applicant will open for submissions on Wednesday 21st September and will close at 3 pm Wednesday 5th October 2016.

Now in its second year, the purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to stimulate growth for start-up companies working in areas of agriculture and manufacturing that have the capability to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones, that will ensure delivery of their product or service to an international audience.

The fund is open to applications from individuals, early stage companies or prospective businesses operating in the agri-business sector including but not limited to:

Ø  Machine design and manufacturing

Ø  Fabrication

Ø  Engineering and technical activities

Ø  Life science products

Ø  Farm related software and related services

Ø  Vet-pharma, animal health and chemical products

Start-up food companies with potential to export are also encouraged to apply.

Launching the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD said: “The Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund aims to provide a launch platform for young companies in this sector to establish their business and launch new products and services in international market places. A priority for the government is to help Irish entrepreneurs grow their business and the €500,000 Fund, will go towards supporting the next generation of Irish agri-businesses and manufacturers to compete in export markets, creating valuable jobs throughout Ireland.”

Anne Lanigan, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland said, “Agri engineering is worth €250 million in exports to the Irish economy and this fund is seeking to encourage and support the next generation of engineering and manufacturing companies coming through in the agriculture sector. The Competitive Start Fund is part of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for increasing the number and quality of high potential start-up companies that have the potential to employ more than 10 and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years.

“We were encouraged to drive forward with this year’s competition, following the level of interest and the quality of applications we received last year. Applications to this year’s fund will be considered on a competitive basis and we encourage ambitious individuals and start-ups to apply”, she added.

For the third year running, Enterprise Ireland has teamed up with the National Ploughing Association and the Farmers Journal to recognise and reward outstanding innovation in the agricultural sector during the National Ploughing Championships which takes place from the 20th–22nd September 2016 in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Enterprise Ireland representatives will be based at the Innovation Arena at the Ploughing Championships and will be on hand to provide information and answer any questions from potential applicants and entrepreneurs about the Competitive Start Fund.

Full details on the Competitive Start Fund, including the application form can be accessed on the Enterprise Ireland website www.enterprise-ireland.com/agricsf.

CAPTION:

Pictured (from L-R) at the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s €500,000 Competitive Start Fund to support agricultural and manufacturing start-ups are: Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD; Richard Fairman, Product Development Manager, FarmFlo; and Anne Lanigan, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland.

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Cameroonian Cocoa Sector Makes Good Strides in Sustainable Production

Over 9,500 cocoa farmers in Cameroon have received more than €1.4 million (958 million cfa) in premium payments – the largest ever certification premium payments made for sustainable cocoa in the country – under the Cargill Cocoa Promise. These payments directly reflect the growing appetite of customers for certified cocoa products and appreciation for the efforts undertaken by cocoa farmers in Cameroon to become more professional and achieve certification.

While Cargill as part of the joint venture Telcar has been training cocoa farmers in Cameroon since 2011, the Cargill Cocoa Promise efforts on the ground have become more advanced in the last year training nearly 21,000 cocoa farmers at over 600 farmer field schools and building 11 boreholes for local communities to increase access to potable drinking water.

By working through these programs, farmers strive for improved profitability and productivity.  Another 10,000 new farmers are expected to undergo this training in 2016/2017 and a further eight local communities have been identified for new borehole projects.

The premium payments are made to certified farmer cooperatives with 50 per cent going directly to individual members, and the remainder being invested in projects that boost productivity or farm development for the farmer organisation or projects that will benefit the wider community. For Cameroon this has so far included boreholes, 100 scholarships, 10 Cassava grinding machines for women’s groups and credit/discount schemes for crop protection products.

The premiums and ceremonies are an incentive for farmers to adopt good agricultural practices and to directly support and influence improvements that will make a difference to their own communities. Premiums are paid by Telcar/Cargill to farmers but represent a contribution from Cargill’s customers that purchase certified products globally.

CargillC&CCocoaBeansTo continuously increase the reach and impact of the company’s program in Cameroon, a key priority of the Cargill Cocoa Promise is to further develop and professionalise farmer organisations. These organisations are are extraordinary multipliers to promote good agricultural practices and behavioural change in rural areas.

In March 2016, the Cargill Coop Academy was established in Cameroon, based on the highly successful model in Cote d’Ivoire.  The Academy provides business education and is on target to train over 900 executives from 227 farmer organisations over four years. Since its March inception, 60 cooperatives have participated and their leaders have started the 28-day intensive curriculum and yearlong personalised one-on-one coaching. This represents a significant step towards professionalisation of farmer organisations in Cameroon.

Speaking on behalf of Telcar, Madame Kate says: “Farmer organisations are critical to accelerating our outreach in Cameroon. By empowering these organisations, supporting training in business skills and strengthening their business operations, we can help progress this sector for the future.”

Lionel Soulard, Regional Managing Director Africa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, says: “It is exciting to see the development of the cocoa sector in Cameroon and the significant progress that has been made so far. With the significant buy-in and demand from our customers for certified cocoa our long-term goal is to contribute to a thriving cocoa sector for farmers and their communities. To make this happen, we have set up the right support, tools and training to help farmers and communities improve their livelihoods and contribute to professionalising the coops. Only when farmers take their own destiny in their own hands will we have a truly sustainable cocoa sector.”

Cameroon is the fourth largest producer of cocoa beans globally and it is critical that we contribute and help build a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector for farmers and their communities.

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Mondelez International Expands Cocoa Life in Indonesia

Mondelēz International has announced the successful completion of the first phase of its new partnerships with Swisscontact, Cargill and Wahana Visi Indonesia to expand its Cocoa Life program in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. With the help of Swisscontact, funded by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), the program aims to develop sustainable livelihoods for cocoa-farming communities.  The program specifically promotes women’s empowerment and youth participation, creating a next generation of cocoa farmers who see potential in the cocoa sector.

In the first phase, Cocoa Life communities developed Community Action Plans (CAPs) and formed Community Development Committees with representatives from all relevant groups in the community, such as youth and women. The committees will implement the CAPs, which feed into village plans, helping communities receive regional government funding and support. Cocoa Life also provides training to increase communities’ awareness of social issues.  The program assists communities in taking local action for positive change and developing their own action plans.

Mondelēz International is part of the consortium led by Swisscontact, which together with the Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia, announced in April 2015 the Green Prosperity — Sustainable Cocoa Production Program (GP-SCPP), which aims to reduce poverty and greenhouse gas emissions in the Indonesian cocoa sector.

“Cocoa Life is taking root in Indonesia because it’s focused on farmers,” says Andi Sitti Asmayanti, Director of Cocoa Life for Southeast Asia. “Through Cocoa Life, we’re empowering farmers to create action plans with their communities and shape the future of cocoa. It’s important that community members come together to build plans that are based on their long-term needs. This creates ownership and empowerment. Together with our partners and the Indonesian government, we’re helping cocoa-farming families create the kind of communities they want to live in, and inspiring the next generation.”

Swisscontact is working with partners Wahana Visi Indonesia and Cargill on a three-year program to reach 6,000 cocoa farmers and at least 16,000 community members in Southeast Sulawesi. The collaboration with Cargill as supply chain partner focuses on improving good agricultural and environmental practices as part of the farming and environment focus areas in the Cocoa Life program. Swisscontact, through Wahana Visi Indonesia, focuses on implementing interventions as part of livelihoods, community and youth.

“This partnership brings proven experience in community mobilization to SCPP’s experience in supply chain development and strengthens the ability of cocoa farmers to shape their future,” says Manfred Borer, Country Director, Swisscontact Indonesia. “By promoting open participation in community meetings, community members that are often overlooked will be given a platform to promote their ideas for community development.”

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Carr’s Flour Mills Sold in £36 Million Deal

Carr’s, the UK-based agriculture, food and engineering group, has disposed of Carr’s Flour Mills, its food division, to Whitworths Holdings, a leading British flour milling business, for a gross consideration of £36.0 million and net consideration of £24.9 million after adjustments for working capital and net debt in the business at completion. The disposal will support Carr’s ambition to achieve growth and development in line with its strategic goal of being an international company at the forefront of innovation and technology across both of its remaining businesses of agriculture and engineering.

Tim Davies, chief executive of Carr’s, comments: “The sale of Carr’s Flour Mills Ltd represents an exciting stage in Carr’s strategic development. At a time of increasing competition and volatility in the flour market, consolidation is essential and inevitable. This acquisition by Whitworths presents a great opportunity for the Food division to continue building on the strong foundations laid over many years.”

He adds: “We will continue to focus on our strategy of delivering growth in our UK agriculture business, the development of our international feed supplement businesses and building our specialist engineering division in niche markets across the globe. Carr’s continues to benefit from both operational and geographic diversity and a strong balance sheet and we look forward to an exciting future focussed on delivering growth in our higher margin products and services within the Agriculture and Engineering divisions.”

Martin George, chairman of Whitworths Holdings, comments: “Carr’s Flour Mills Ltd shares a similar history to Whitworths in that it is a long standing business which has received material investment in recent years. The business is a great fit geographically and will give us access to the South East, North of England and Scottish markets that would otherwise not be available and means we have national reach.”

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