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UK Farming Statistics


05 August 2013

UK Farming and Food Brief - July 2013UK Farming and Food Brief - July 2013

The monthly farming and food brief summarises the latest statistical and economic information relating to the agricultural sector. In particular, it highlights the results of recently published evidence and research.
UK Farming Statistics

Headline summary

Milk prices at record levels

The average UK milk price for June 2013 increased by 2.7 per cent from the previous month to 30.77 pence per litre (exc. bonuses). This represents a rise of 17.8 per cent (4.66 pence per litre) on June 2012. This price marks a record monthly high, ahead of the previous high of 30.12 pence per litre which was set in December 2012. (see section 2)

Small increase in nitrogen balance, but long term trend down

Defra released provisional 2012 figures for the UK and England soil nutrient balances on 25 July 2013. Soil nutrient balances provide a method for estimating the annual nutrient loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus to agricultural soils. The nutrient balances are used as a high level indicator of farming’s pressure on the environment and of how that pressure is changing over time. The 2012 nitrogen balance was 4 per cent higher than 2011, though 16 per cent below the 2000 level, reflecting the long term downward trend. (see section 2)

Crop areas likely to be reduced, wheat down, barley up

The results of the 2013 AHDB/HGCA Planting Survey were published on 22 July. The Survey estimates that the total cereal and oilseed harvest area in Great Britain will fall by 4 per cent compared to 2012 as a result of the poor planting and growing conditions. The total GB wheat area is predicted to be down 19 per cent compared to 2012 whereas the total barley area is estimated to have increased by 26 per cent (mainly due to a 54 per cent increase in spring barley area). (see section 2)

Harvest late, but progressing

This is the latest start to the England harvest in recent years. The winter barley harvest only got underway in earnest from 24 July. This is considerably later than normal, with winter barley typically starting between 8-10 July. An estimated 10 per cent of winter barley and 4 per cent of winter oilseed rape had been harvested by the end of July, along with very small areas of winter wheat. Initial yield figures are close to average but at this stage it is too early to give a firm indication for the whole of the season. (see section 2)

Farming

This section brings together the latest economic position for the farming sector (including UK and international input and commodity price intelligence) and the highlights of recently published evidence and research.

Economic

UK Prices – Inputs

  • Red Diesel: In June 2013, the average price for red diesel rose to 69.47 pence per litre after substantial falls in April and May.
  • Fertiliser: The average price for 34.5 per cent UK Ammonium Nitrate bags rose very slightly to £271 per tonne. Fertiliser prices remain low compared to earlier in the year to try and encourage sales. (Source: Dairy Co Datum)

Prices and Market Information – Commodities

Cereals

  • The June average price of Hard Red winter wheat was $320 per tonne, a decrease of 3.1 per cent from May. For Soft Red winter wheat the average June price was $276, a decrease of 2.5 per cent from May. Prices available to mid July show a decrease of 3.6 per cent for Hard Red Winter wheat on the June average price and a decrease of 2.8 per cent for Soft Red Winter wheat.
  • Maize prices have fallen from a record high of $358 per tonne in July 2012 to $300 per tonne in mid July (0.4 per cent lower than the June average price).
  • In their most recent report (11 July) the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its latest world supply and demand estimates. For old crop wheat, global ending stocks for 2012/13 were revised downwards by 5.4Mt due to increased demand for animal feed from China (+5Mt) and European Union (+1Mt). Ending stocks are now estimated at 174.5Mt. New crop world wheat production in 2013/14 is estimated at 698Mt, up 2Mt from June and 43Mt above 2012/13 levels. This increased forecast is due to higher production estimates for the US and Australia. Production in the EU is also estimated higher at 136Mt, reflecting Croatia joining the EU on 1 July. The global demand estimate has been increased from 694.5Mt in June to 700Mt due to increased feed demand (mainly from China). As a result global ending stocks are now forecast at 172.4Mt, down almost 9Mt from the previous estimate.
  • For maize, the UDSA have revised world end of season stocks for 2012/13 slightly lower by 0.7Mt to 123.6Mt reflecting several minor changes to both production and demand. For new crop maize the USDA now forecast the US maize crop at 354Mt (-1.4Mt from previous estimate) due to a reduced harvested area estimate. Despite this reduction the 2013/14 crop is still forecast to be 80Mt higher than last year. Due to this estimated fall in US crop and a 1Mt reduction in Chinese production (now 211Mt) results in global production estimated at 960Mt (855Mt 2012/13). Global ending stocks are now forecast at 151Mt (-1Mt compared to the June estimate).
  • Estimates for the 2012/13 soyabean production were revised upwards by 0.4Mt from June to 268Mt with increases in Paraguay and China offsetting a reduction in Argentine output. With demand forecasts remaining largely unchanged at 258.85Mt ending stocks increased 0.3Mt to 61.5Mt. For new crop US production was revised upwards by 1.5Mt to 93.1Mt as a result of the June planting report. With no other changes to US estimates ending stocks were increased from 7.22Mt in June to 8.04Mt which is at the higher end of expectations. Despite a 1Mt reduction in the Argentine crop global production is up 0.5Mt from June to 285.9Mt. With demand only slightly higher, global ending stocks are increased 0.4Mt to 74.12Mt.
  • Animal Feed (source Defra): During May 2013 (the latest period for which data is available), the total GB retail production of animal feed was 859 thousand tonnes, up 9.2 per cent on the same period in 2012. There was an increase in the retail production of animal feed in that period due to the wet weather and livestock having to be housed longer. The poor quality of the current forage crop has also been a factor. Total GB integrated poultry feed production was 205 thousand tonnes, down 2.6 per cent during May 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.
  • Flour (source Defra): During May 2013, the total amount of wheat milled in the UK was 501 thousand tonnes, 5 per cent higher than in May 2012. Imported wheat milled was 189 thousand tonnes, up 251 per cent, due to the poor quality UK wheat harvest. Millers are experiencing difficulties sourcing quality UK milling wheat so imports are being used to meet the shortfall. The total amount of home grown wheat milled in the UK for May 2013 was 312 thousand tonnes, down 27 per cent compared with May 2012. Flour production for the same period was 392 thousand tonnes, 1.8 per cent higher than in May 2012.
  • Brewers, Distillers and Maltsters (source Defra): During May 2013, the total usage of barley by brewers, distillers and maltsters was 163 thousand tonnes, up 6 per cent compared to May 2012.

Livestock (source: Defra)

  • Sheep: UK home-killed production of mutton and lamb was 7.1 per cent higher in June 2013 compared to June 2012, with production during the first six months of 2013 rising by 5.3 per cent. Lamb slaughterings also increased compared to last year but this was mainly due to the low numbers in 2012. Throughputs of adult sheep were also well ahead of last year’s low levels, being 20 per cent higher and was partly due to continued tight feed supplies and the problematic breeding season.
  • Cattle: Production of beef and veal in June 2013 was 1 per cent higher than the same month in 2012. During the first six months of 2013 production decreased by 2.9 per cent, with slaughterings of prime cattle 3 per cent lower and average weights down on last year.
  • Pigs: UK home-killed production of pigmeat was 1.0 per cent higher in June 2013 compared to 2012. During the first six months of 2013, production rose by 1.0 per cent on 2012 levels with slaughterings on a similar level to last year but heavier average weights.

Livestock products

  • Milk volumes: In June 2013, the provisional volume of wholesale milk delivered to dairies in the UK was 1.2 billion litres, which was 1.1 per cent lower than the same period last year. Cumulative production for the first three months of the milk year is recovering as recent favourable weather conditions have helped milk production increase to more typical levels (source: RPA).
  • Milk prices: The average UK milk price for June 2013 has increased by 2.7 per cent from the previous month to 30.77 pence per litre (exc. bonuses), which also represents a rise of 17.8 per marks a record monthly high, ahead of the previous high of 30.12 which was set in December 2012. (source: Defra).
  • Eggs: During the second quarter of 2013, 6.8 million cases of eggs were packed in the UK, of which 5.1 million (75 per cent) were packed in England and Wales. Packing station throughput steadily increased through 2012 and now shows a 7.9 per cent increase on Quarter 2 2012 (source: Defra).
  • Poultry meat: Poultry meat production for the first six months of 2013, at 818 thousand tonnes, was 3.6 per cent higher than the same period last year.

UK Crop development

This is the latest start to harvest in recent years. The first winter barley crops were harvested around 15 July, but harvest only got underway in earnest from 24 July. This is considerably later than normal, with winter barley typically starting around the 8-10 July. An estimated 35,000ha of winter barley (10 per cent of the area) and 25,000ha of winter oilseed rape (4 per cent of the area) has been harvested to date, along with very small areas of winter wheat. The majority of harvest activity so far has been in the South West, Eastern and Southern regions.

The lateness of harvest is affecting all combinable crops as a result of the very cold March period and continued cool weather through May and June. July was largely dry and hot across most of the country, with daytime temperatures reaching in excess of 30°C on many days. This aided ripening and reduced disease pressure, but also caused some crop stress due to high soil moisture deficits and high temperatures. In the last week of July conditions have become more unsettled with repeated showers, heavy at times. These have only caused minimal disruptions given the small area of crops ready for harvest. Initial yield figures are close to average but at this stage it is too early to give a good indication for the season. (Source: ADAS).

The results of the 2013 AHDB/HGCA Planting Survey were published 22 July. The Survey estimates that the total cereals and oilseeds harvest area in Great Britain will fall by 4 per cent compared to 2012 to 3.68 million hectares. As a result of the poor planting and growing conditions farmers were requested to supply results based on their intended harvest area rather than planted area.

The total GB wheat area is predicted to be down 19 per cent compared to 2012 at 1.61 million hectares whereas the total barley area is estimated to have increased by 26 per cent (mainly due to a 54 per cent increase in spring barley area) to 1.23 million hectares.

The 2013 oilseed rape area is projected to fall by around 9 per cent to 686 thousand hectares with additional spring planting partially offsetting a fall in winter oilseed rape. Farmers have shown a wide variation in their individual approaches to abandoning crops and therefore the decrease in harvested area should be treated with caution (Source HGCA).

August 2013

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