"UK potato sowings this year are on course for their lowest in modern history, undermined by low prices, which are being pressed by a market oversupply and supermarket price wars, one of the country’s top packers said.
“Early indications point to a reduction in the planted area for potatoes in 2015,” Produce Investments, the owner of the Greenvale business, said.
In fact, “we think the UK will lose on balance something like 5–10%” in potato area, Angus Armstrong, the group’s chief executive, told Agrimoney.com.
“We are advising our growers to reduce production by 10%,” he said.
The industry was looking at the “lowest area seen in the history of the UK”.
With Defra, the UK farm ministry, estimates UK potato area last year at 141,000 hectares, a reduction of 5% implies an area of some 134,000 hectares, beneath the 2005 figure of 137,000 hectares which is the lowest on data going back to 1984.
The forecast came as the group unveiled a sharp drop in first-half results, thanks to “very challenging market conditions”, but said that a “stronger business model” left it well positioned for growth ahead."
"EDMONTON — Increased taxes and levies, spending cuts, layoffs and borrowing from the savings account still won’t be enough to dig Alberta out of its financial hole caused by plunging oil prices.
The 2015–16 deficit is expected to be $4.99 billion, the biggest deficit in recent Alberta history.
Increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel and alcohol, a health care levy and other fees are expected to bring in an additional $1.48 billion in revenue, bringing the total expected revenue to $49 billion.
“This has been one of the hardest budgets developed in many years and it has required tough decisions. It is not the reality we were expecting as recently as last fall,” said Alberta finance minister Robin Campbell, referring to the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices that Alberta relies on for revenue.
The government also plans to reduce spending by $3.75 billion by eliminating more than 2,000 positions and cuts across almost every ministry.
To soften the financial blow, the province plans to borrow $4 billion of the $6.5 billion stashed in the Contingency Fund and continue dipping into the fund for the next two years, by which time only $1 billion will be left in the savings account.
Campbell hopes by then Alberta will have started to wean itself off oil and gas revenues and can start adding money back into the contingency fund.
“This is the balanced approach that Albertans want and our economy needs.”
There will be no provincial sales tax, no changes in corporate income tax rates and no change to the oil and gas royalty structure, but personal income tax will increase.
“Government will not add to their burden and risk more layoffs by increasing corporate taxes or changing our royalty structure. This is not the time to be putting more pressure on businesses,” he said."
"Extending rotations is still the best way to combat a virulent root rot disease that is taking its toll on pea and lentil crops, says a pulse crop expert.
Sabine Banniza, a pathologist with the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, said there are no effective seed treatments or fungicides for dealing with aphanomyces.
Growers have to rely on agronomic practices for combating the disease, and lengthening rotations is at the top of the list.
Research from France, where pea growers have been wrestling with the disease for a decade, suggests rotations should be stretched out to six or eight years between susceptible host crops on fields where there are high levels of the disease in the soil.
Susceptible hosts include peas, lentils and some alfalfa crops.
Growers intent on keeping a pulse crop in the rotation might want to consider fababeans, soybeans or chickpeas, which all demonstrate good resistance to the disease.
“I realize lentil and pea prices have been quite good whereas chickpea prices haven’t, so there are definitely economic reasons why a producer may not choose to grow (chickpeas),” Banniza said during an hour-long webinar on root rot organized by Saskatchewan Agriculture.
“But I think you have to think about the long-term sustainability of your fields in terms of lentil and pea production.”"
"Doctor Steve Savage had a few things to say about government regulation at this week’s semi-annual Grain Farmers of Ontario meeting in London.
Dr. Savage talked about the concept of social license that he feels is creating an environment in which regulatory demands are making it increasingly difficult for the agriculture industry to function.
“Social license, as I understand it and the way it applies to agriculture, is the ability of an industry to function in an economically viable way without intrusive sort of regulatory limits or societal limits that compromise its ability just to serve its customers.”
Savage went on to say that vested interests and public perception are frequently the determining factors that impact regulation and development.
Throughout the body of his work, Dr. Savage is trying to improve the level of understanding between the agricultural sector and consumers.
He believes that a cooperative effort between environmental groups and farmers would lead to a far more positive result than any which could be achieved otherwise."
"Accessing and using fumigants for grain beetle control in stored grain has become more complex. That according to an Alberta Agriculture specialist. Harry Brook, crop specialist at the Ag-Info Centre, explains.
Interview with Harry Brook (2:32 minutes) (1.16 Mb)
More with Brook on tomorrow’s program. For more information, call Julie Sisson with the PMRA at 403–393–1576, or the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM, 310–3276.
And a reminder you can listen to Call of the Land on your mobile device using the new Call of the Land App. It’s available for free from iTunes and the Google Play Store.