National Farmers Union

Warwickshire, United Kingdom

National Farmers Union

Warwickshire, United Kingdom
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News Article | April 12, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The supermarket chain Asda has relaunched its value Smart Price food range as Farm Stores, reigniting the row about retailers’ controversial use of “fake farm” brands to sell products. Asda, which pledged to replace the Smart Price branded products completely by 2018, has recently reintroduced the Farm Stores label for both meat and fresh produce after dropping it in 2001. UK farming organisations – which last year criticised Tesco’s introduction of a budget range of own-label “farm” brands – dismissed the latest marketing drive as misleading for consumers and insulting for farmers. But an Asda spokeswoman said: “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers. We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.” Ruth Mason, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers Union, said: “Although such rebrands can drive an uplift in sales, in our view it is important that product names and descriptions are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers. With Asda now using the term ‘farm’ within its branding, it is imperative that the origin of these products is clear to customers.” In March 2016 Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, sparked controversy after launching seven brands – including “Woodside Farms” and “Boswell Farms” – based on British-sounding but fictitious names as part of its commercial fightback against the discounters Aldi and Lidl. Some of the foods were imported from overseas and given British names to make them sound local. Tesco will on Wednesday reassure investors that its crisis years are over by reporting a larger-than-expected jump in annual profits. It has won back disillusioned shoppers by focusing on lower prices – with the new farm brands key to a significant sales uplift. Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, called the latest move “disgraceful” and said Asda and other retailers should instead focus on increasing the amount British food they stocked. ‘The use of fake farm names or branding is misleading for consumers and insulting to farmers,” he said. “Many hard-pressed customers, trying to do their shopping in a hurry, are likely to be misled into thinking they’re buying a product from a specific British farm when they are not.” In July the NFU referred Tesco’s “fake farm” branding to national trading standards for investigation, but the complicated regulatory structure meant it had to be dealt with by a local trading standards office in Hertfordshire because of Tesco’s head office being in Welwyn Garden City. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has since asked lead authorities – county trading standards offices – to draw to the attention of all food businesses the relevant legal provisions regarding origin labelling.


News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

Will The Government Help Farmers Adapt To A Changing Climate? The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate. Farmers stand to lose a lot if worst-case climate projections come to pass. They are likely to face extreme swings in temperature and precipitation. Pests and crop diseases will show up more frequently. Heat stress could stunt meat and dairy production by the nation's cattle herds, costing farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue and forcing food prices to rise. Given the scope of the problem, the search for novel ways to adapt to a changing climate is driving agricultural research. The new administration in Washington, D.C., however, is attempting to change not just the direction of climate research, but also the tone and rhetoric around the issue. For more than a decade, the federal government has taken on a large role in directing and funding climate change research, spending more than $11.6 billion on climate research in 2014 — an increase from just $2.4 billion in spending in 1993, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Former President Barack Obama made climate change adaptation and preparation a signature issue, rolling climate goals into policies across the government. A high-profile Obama-era initiative specifically focused on the food system came in the form of U.S. Department of Agriculture research centers known as "climate hubs." The hubs are meant to better coordinate USDA research and outreach. After their creation in 2014, researchers set about translating scientific jargon into real-world advice for farmers, ranchers and foresters on how best to survive more erratic weather and a hotter climate. The Agriculture Department established nine hubs across the U.S., and put one devoted to Caribbean adaptation in Puerto Rico. In Fort Collins, Colo., the Northern Plains Climate Hub operates out of a squat, beige building, hidden behind a row of greenhouses. The center's director, agricultural economist Dannele Peck, says her team is doing the work necessary to keep America's farmers and ranchers productive as climate change upends their operations. And unlike other industries that could suffer losses in a hotter climate, Peck says farmers are already primed to start having conversations and changing certain practices now. "When you walk into a local diner, what are they talking about? The weather," Peck says. Peck's region – which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota – is an agricultural powerhouse. Dairies are sprouting up and growing in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota, while beef cattle feedlots dot the landscape throughout. In crop production, the Dakotas rank high nationally for production of field crops like oats, wheat, sunflowers and dry beans. To keep up the pace of food production in those areas, farmers and ranchers will have to make changes, Peck says. And it is the USDA's responsibility to help them adapt. "One part of the hub's creation was just to make us more efficient," Peck says. "If we have many, many different people working on weather and climate issues and they don't talk to each other, you get redundancy or duplication." While the Obama administration initially set up the climate hubs, they are now under the purview of a new president in Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called global warming "a hoax." He excoriated Obama during the Paris climate talks in 2015, taking to Instagram to call the former president's interest in climate change as a national security issue "ridiculous." Trump's new USDA secretary, Sonny Perdue, is now overseeing the agency's climate change projects, including the 10 climate hubs. He does not deny climate change is happening, but injects seeds of doubt about humanity's role in causing it. "I've been on a farm since the early [1950s] and I can tell you the climate is changing," Perdue says. "But the fact of what the cause of it is, is really what is in dispute." Nearly every climate scientist in the world disagrees. So do portions of the USDA's website that say unequivocally climate change is human-caused. But similar statements are slowly being scrubbed from other federal websites, leading some to question the Trump administration's commitment to well-established climate science. "Farmers care about this a lot," says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, a left-leaning farmer advocacy group. He was a North Dakota farmer for the majority of his life. "What farmers really want is good, solid scientific information about how they can better operate their farms and ranches," Johnson says. With equivocation or outright denial of the facts about climate change from those in charge of the country's top scientific and regulatory agencies, that solid scientific information from publicly funded scientists is in jeopardy, Johnson says. "It looks really fuzzy right now," he says. "It looks like there's a bunch of science deniers, climate deniers that have largely been installed in high levels in this administration." The federal budget, which was passed in May and funds the government through the end of September, maintains or even boosts most scientific research funding. But Charles Rice, a soil microbiologist at Kansas State University, says the administration's rhetoric also matters. Rice has received USDA grants to look at how farmers might adapt to a hotter climate and says any pause in current research could have drastic effects down the line. "There is a general feeling of concern," Rice says, "particularly for those agencies that have direct roles in climate change research and monitoring." Policy changes implemented now will lead farmers in a direction that will play out over the next few decades. "It takes 20 or 30 years to develop a new crop variety, and so even a short-term reduction or priority change will have a long-term implication on research for plant development," Rice says. Rice is worried about a scientific "brain drain," and has worked with graduate students interested in climate change adaptation seeking to continue their education or work outside of the U.S. The Trump administration will find it difficult to cut funding for climate change research across the board. Federal agencies under Obama rolled adaptation into many different aspects of their work and there is no master list of climate change programs. According to former Obama administration officials, some initiatives purposefully avoided using the word "climate" in order to avoid Congressional budget cuts. Sally Rockey, director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which relies on federal money for a portion of its funding, says climate change adaptation will continue to be a driving force within agricultural research, despite the skeptical tone coming from the executive branch. What might change, however, is what it is called. Climate research may be re-branded under the vague umbrella of "sustainability." "At the core of many of the things we do are sustainability, and sustainability is a lot about climate," Rockey says. "So the two are intertwined in almost every program we do." Federal projects with a climate change focus and the word "climate" in their name — like the USDA's climate hubs — will likely be under the microscope. Agriculture Secretary Perdue says it is too soon in his tenure to say what he wants the hubs to achieve. Perdue says his office will be looking at how the hubs came to be. And he says if they are found to have an ideological bent, or come from a "politically correct position," the USDA might find a "better way to research."


News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.npr.org

Will The Government Help Farmers Adapt To A Changing Climate? The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate. Farmers stand to lose a lot if worst-case climate projections come to pass. They are likely to face extreme swings in temperature and precipitation. Pests and crop diseases will show up more frequently. Heat stress could stunt meat and dairy production by the nation's cattle herds, costing farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue and forcing food prices to rise. Given the scope of the problem, the search for novel ways to adapt to a changing climate is driving agricultural research. The new administration in Washington, D.C., however, is attempting to change not just the direction of climate research, but also the tone and rhetoric around the issue. For more than a decade, the federal government has taken on a large role in directing and funding climate change research, spending more than $11.6 billion on climate research in 2014 — an increase from just $2.4 billion in spending in 1993, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Former President Barack Obama made climate change adaptation and preparation a signature issue, rolling climate goals into policies across the government. A high-profile Obama-era initiative specifically focused on the food system came in the form of U.S. Department of Agriculture research centers known as "climate hubs." The hubs are meant to better coordinate USDA research and outreach. After their creation in 2014, researchers set about translating scientific jargon into real-world advice for farmers, ranchers and foresters on how best to survive more erratic weather and a hotter climate. The Agriculture Department established nine hubs across the U.S., and put one devoted to Caribbean adaptation in Puerto Rico. In Fort Collins, Colo., the Northern Plains Climate Hub operates out of a squat, beige building, hidden behind a row of greenhouses. The center's director, agricultural economist Dannele Peck, says her team is doing the work necessary to keep America's farmers and ranchers productive as climate change upends their operations. And unlike other industries that could suffer losses in a hotter climate, Peck says farmers are already primed to start having conversations and changing certain practices now. "When you walk into a local diner, what are they talking about? The weather," Peck says. Peck's region – which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota – is an agricultural powerhouse. Dairies are sprouting up and growing in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota, while beef cattle feedlots dot the landscape throughout. In crop production, the Dakotas rank high nationally for production of field crops like oats, wheat, sunflowers and dry beans. To keep up the pace of food production in those areas, farmers and ranchers will have to make changes, Peck says. And it is the USDA's responsibility to help them adapt. "One part of the hub's creation was just to make us more efficient," Peck says. "If we have many, many different people working on weather and climate issues and they don't talk to each other, you get redundancy or duplication." While the Obama administration initially set up the climate hubs, they are now under the purview of a new president in Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called global warming "a hoax." He excoriated Obama during the Paris climate talks in 2015, taking to Instagram to call the former president's interest in climate change as a national security issue "ridiculous." Trump's new USDA secretary, Sonny Perdue, is now overseeing the agency's climate change projects, including the 10 climate hubs. He does not deny climate change is happening, but injects seeds of doubt about humanity's role in causing it. "I've been on a farm since the early [1950s] and I can tell you the climate is changing," Perdue says. "But the fact of what the cause of it is, is really what is in dispute." Nearly every climate scientist in the world disagrees. So do portions of the USDA's website that say unequivocally climate change is human-caused. But similar statements are slowly being scrubbed from other federal websites, leading some to question the Trump administration's commitment to well-established climate science. "Farmers care about this a lot," says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, a left-leaning farmer advocacy group. He was a North Dakota farmer for the majority of his life. "What farmers really want is good, solid scientific information about how they can better operate their farms and ranches," Johnson says. With equivocation or outright denial of the facts about climate change from those in charge of the country's top scientific and regulatory agencies, that solid scientific information from publicly funded scientists is in jeopardy, Johnson says. "It looks really fuzzy right now," he says. "It looks like there's a bunch of science deniers, climate deniers that have largely been installed in high levels in this administration." The federal budget, which was passed in May and funds the government through the end of September, maintains or even boosts most scientific research funding. But Charles Rice, a soil microbiologist at Kansas State University, says the administration's rhetoric also matters. Rice has received USDA grants to look at how farmers might adapt to a hotter climate and says any pause in current research could have drastic effects down the line. "There is a general feeling of concern," Rice says, "particularly for those agencies that have direct roles in climate change research and monitoring." Policy changes implemented now will lead farmers in a direction that will play out over the next few decades. "It takes 20 or 30 years to develop a new crop variety, and so even a short-term reduction or priority change will have a long-term implication on research for plant development," Rice says. Rice is worried about a scientific "brain drain," and has worked with graduate students interested in climate change adaptation seeking to continue their education or work outside of the U.S. The Trump administration will find it difficult to cut funding for climate change research across the board. Federal agencies under Obama rolled adaptation into many different aspects of their work and there is no master list of climate change programs. According to former Obama administration officials, some initiatives purposefully avoided using the word "climate" in order to avoid Congressional budget cuts. Sally Rockey, director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, which relies on federal money for a portion of its funding, says climate change adaptation will continue to be a driving force within agricultural research, despite the skeptical tone coming from the executive branch. What might change, however, is what it is called. Climate research may be re-branded under the vague umbrella of "sustainability." "At the core of many of the things we do are sustainability, and sustainability is a lot about climate," Rockey says. "So the two are intertwined in almost every program we do." Federal projects with a climate change focus and the word "climate" in their name — like the USDA's climate hubs — will likely be under the microscope. Agriculture Secretary Perdue says it is too soon in his tenure to say what he wants the hubs to achieve. Perdue says his office will be looking at how the hubs came to be. And he says if they are found to have an ideological bent, or come from a "politically correct position," the USDA might find a "better way to research."


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Donald Trump owes his election in no small part to the support of farm country. But since entering office, almost all his actions and pronouncements have betrayed an abysmal understanding of farm and rural concerns. No surprise, then, that food and farm advocates have looked eagerly to Sonny Perdue, who was sworn in as agriculture secretary on Tuesday, to educate and temper the president on their issues. The new secretary has his work cut out for him. The president unveiled a budget blueprint last month that slashed funding for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 21%. Will Perdue become the champion that the advocates hope for? He gave mixed messages about his vision during his confirmation hearing. Perdue wants to preserve the “broad tent” approach of his predecessor, such as supporting organic and locally grown and consumed food. Unfortunately, he also stated that “the jury is still out on whether humans are causing climate change”. He also indicated that he would be open to allowing school districts to formulate their own meal plans, a move that could undermine the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which requires schools to provide nutritious meals with more fruits and vegetables. Frozen- and junk-food companies have lobbied for loosening the regulation. Most worrisome is that it appears that, under Trump and Perdue, the USDA will double down on an industrialized, corporate food and agriculture model that is already failing most farmers and rural residents. Perdue’s Senate hearing centered on USDA programs that cater to large-scale companies producing commodity crops. The former governor said farmers and taxpayers are getting “good value” from these programs. Tell this to farmers, most of whom run small family-owned operations, who in 2017 will face a fourth consecutive year of diminished income in spite of record productivity. It shows an inconceivable lack of imagination if the nation’s top agricultural leadership is suggesting we tackle low prices by pushing production, new product development, new markets and exports. Plus, Perdue wants to establish a new undersecretary for trade. While a minority of large-scale farmers will benefit from this spent approach, we are not going to produce our way out of the current agricultural doldrums. The USDA would do better to invest in programs serving a wider swath of farmers and struggling rural communities, including those that encourage more farmers to enter rather than leave the business, help farmers produce a diverse mix of healthful foods for regional consumption, and create local jobs (the very same approach worked well for Perdue in his home state). Farmers also need programs that would curb the soil erosion and runoff that pollutes drinking water from Des Moines to Toledo and many rural communities in between. Does Perdue believe in the market economy? If so, farmers need markets to reward them for clean water and carbon sequestration. Farmers – who will be hit harder and more frequently by the catastrophic floods, droughts and pests that accompany a changing climate – need programs to help their farms become more resilient, a point reinforced by a recent bipartisan task force, that found these interrelated issues to be “among the most significant threats to food and nutrition security”. Yet the Trump administration has worked to systematically dismantle the government’s ability to tackle climate change, even suggesting it will back out of the Paris Agreement, a move opposed by the National Farmers Union. Other critical issues are also question marks. For example, when asked about his commitment to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), more commonly known as the food stamp program and the largest single expenditure in the federal farm bill that will be renewed next year, Perdue said he hoped to do it “more efficiently and more effectively than we have”. That sounds like shrinking this safety net vital for low-income families, especially those in rural communities – research shows that a larger percentage of households in rural areas receive Snap benefits than in urban areas, contrary to the stereotype. During his first 100 days in office, Trump has shown little intention of investing in rural communities. Only today, three months into his administration and the first with a secretary of agriculture, has he met with a group of farmers in a rushed photo opportunity, and signed an executive order that essentially calls for a 180-day regulatory review. His new secretary of agriculture has given every indication of catering to the farmers and agribusinesses that least need public support while neglecting the majority of farmers and rural communities. Trump may not be personally affected by his broken campaign promises – so far he has failed to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, or to deploy his secret plan to defeat Isis in 30 days – but the rural electorate that put its faith in him will suffer the consequences. They will continue to see more polluted drinking water, depressed farm incomes, failed businesses, farmland vulnerable to floods and droughts and loss of hope. Status quo is what the farm and rural constituencies voted against, and precisely what Trump and new secretary of agriculture will all but ensure.


Chisamba, Zambia, April 21, 2017 --( In the run-up to the fourth edition of the massive open air farming exhibition in the heart of Zambia’s farming hub, Mr Zimba says the main challenge facing farmers today is the cost of production that is becoming higher while returns are becoming lower. “The farmers have no control over the prices and therefore their returns are always diminishing,” Mr Zimba explains, “and we are engaging with Government how to reduce the cost of production. And we have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then instead of introducing this tax and that tax, they need to zero rate agriculture completely. If there is a zero rate for a couple of years we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget perhaps, they can lend us an ear. The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture.” Slight surpluses The ZNFU President says the region has struggled for the past two seasons because of the drought, adding “but this year we seem to have a good season and therefore I think in terms of maize, which is our staple crop, we should be able to have some surpluses for exports. Of course, generally, the outlook for the region seems to be good as all the countries might post slight surpluses or reduced imports from markets that we have been importing before.” Passion and patience for agri Mr Zimba, who has been a fulltime farmer since 1992, says he inherited his love of farming from his parents, who were also teachers. “Agriculture is purely a passion,” he adds, “if you have no passion for agriculture, and patience, you can never, never like it.” The ZNFU President encourages farmers of all scales to visit Agritech Expo at GART next week, to which entry is free: “We as ZNFU are pushing the agenda of diversification. Most of our farmers are small scale, and they want to grow maize, cotton and soybeans. But now we are seeing that our farmers are trying to diversify to other crops. And we are looking at the issue of mechanisation, getting away from the old traditional way of doing our work.” The full interview with Mr Zimba is available on the event website. In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub Agritech Expo at GART in Chisamba will once again offer free, interactive workshops offering practical advice as well as live demonstrations to help farmers combat challenges such as the armyworm, explore new technologies such as aquaculture as well as learn from experts on improving efficiency of operations and yields on their farms. Last year, the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research centre where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed. As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO. Multi-award winning Agritech Expo Agritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the AAXO ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility. The expo has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm. Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known agri events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa. Agritech Expo Zambia 2017: Dates: 27-29 April 2017 Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia Chisamba, Zambia, April 21, 2017 --( PR.com )-- "The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture,” says Mr Jervis Zimba, President of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), the owners of the upcoming Agritech Expo Zambia, in Chisamba from 27-29 April.In the run-up to the fourth edition of the massive open air farming exhibition in the heart of Zambia’s farming hub, Mr Zimba says the main challenge facing farmers today is the cost of production that is becoming higher while returns are becoming lower.“The farmers have no control over the prices and therefore their returns are always diminishing,” Mr Zimba explains, “and we are engaging with Government how to reduce the cost of production. And we have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then instead of introducing this tax and that tax, they need to zero rate agriculture completely. If there is a zero rate for a couple of years we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget perhaps, they can lend us an ear. The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture.”Slight surplusesThe ZNFU President says the region has struggled for the past two seasons because of the drought, adding “but this year we seem to have a good season and therefore I think in terms of maize, which is our staple crop, we should be able to have some surpluses for exports. Of course, generally, the outlook for the region seems to be good as all the countries might post slight surpluses or reduced imports from markets that we have been importing before.”Passion and patience for agriMr Zimba, who has been a fulltime farmer since 1992, says he inherited his love of farming from his parents, who were also teachers. “Agriculture is purely a passion,” he adds, “if you have no passion for agriculture, and patience, you can never, never like it.”The ZNFU President encourages farmers of all scales to visit Agritech Expo at GART next week, to which entry is free: “We as ZNFU are pushing the agenda of diversification. Most of our farmers are small scale, and they want to grow maize, cotton and soybeans. But now we are seeing that our farmers are trying to diversify to other crops. And we are looking at the issue of mechanisation, getting away from the old traditional way of doing our work.”The full interview with Mr Zimba is available on the event website.In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hubAgritech Expo at GART in Chisamba will once again offer free, interactive workshops offering practical advice as well as live demonstrations to help farmers combat challenges such as the armyworm, explore new technologies such as aquaculture as well as learn from experts on improving efficiency of operations and yields on their farms.Last year, the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research centre where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed.As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO.Multi-award winning Agritech ExpoAgritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the AAXO ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility.The expo has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm.Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known agri events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa.Agritech Expo Zambia 2017:Dates: 27-29 April 2017Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Agritech Expo Zambia


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. farm groups on Tuesday pushed back against President Donald Trump's proposal to slash agriculture spending, viewing it as a fresh threat to a struggling farm economy. The White House on Monday proposed $46.54 billion in cuts to federal government funding for the agriculture sector over the next 10 years, including limits on federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums. Congress has the final say on the government's budget and lawmakers said the president's plan stands little chance of passing. U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Sonny Perdue said there was no "sugarcoating" the budget proposal, which could lead to the elimination of 5,263 jobs at the department if implemented, or about 5 percent of its workforce. USDA requested $18 billion for department spending in fiscal 2018, down from $24 billion in 2017. Farmers in the U.S. agricultural heartland overwhelmingly supported Trump last November and are struggling with low crop prices that are hurting incomes. "This budget seems to really go after the people that got the president elected," said Zack Clark, director of government relations for the National Farmers Union. Some of the biggest proposed cuts come from changes to the crop insurance system, which many farmers rely on to keep their operations running. "It's clear that this budget was written without input from farmers who would be severely affected," Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association, said in a statement. But changes in crop insurance that cause farmers to cut back on plantings could provide relief to a global balance sheet heavy with supplies. Falling production could pay off in the long run by helping to lift prices, said Scott Irwin, agricultural economist for the University of Illinois. Trump's budget imposes a $40,000 limit on crop insurance premium subsidies, which could prevent some farmers from insuring their entire acreage. There is currently no limit. Typically, farmers pay a portion of their insurance premiums and USDA covers the rest, said Jeff Harrison, a lawyer who represents the Crop Insurance Professionals Association. "In practical terms, you're really going after full-time farm families." U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said she would oppose the cuts, which "would leave our farmers, families, and rural communities vulnerable in tough times." House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, both Republicans, said they "will fight to ensure farmers have a strong safety net."


News Article | June 20, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Lidl has become only the second grocer to sign up to a 12-month-old scheme to back British farmers by promising to buy more of their produce and offer long-term supply deals. The German discounter joins its close rival Aldi, which almost a year ago became the first retailer to sign up to the National Farmers Union-backed “fruit and veg pledge”, which aims to boost the profitability of British farmers and suppliers. The code includes a commitment to paying on time and in full, offering more certainty on price and production requirements and aiming to reduce waste by buying the whole crop and adopting realistic product specifications. The farmers’ union has called on all retailers to sign up publicly to the pledge, which took three years to draw up after the publication of its Catalyst for Change report. The union has previously said it has been involved in negotiations with other major UK retailers including Tesco, but only the relatively small-scale discounters that together account for about 10% of the UK market have signed up. Catalyst for Change found millions of pounds had been stripped out of the fresh produce sector through poor supply chain practices and a short-term approach to relationships with growers and intermediaries, damaging farmers’ ability to produce fruit and vegetables. Although there is a code of conduct covering major grocers’ relationships with their suppliers, many farmers are not covered because they go through wholesalers rather than dealing with supermarkets directly. Ali Capper, NFU horticulture and potatoes board chair, said: “We are delighted that Lidl has publicly committed to our pledge, highlighting its commitment to long-term supply relationships, equitable distribution of reward along the supply chain, and fair and respectful trading relationships. “Our goal is to generate integrity, honesty and openness across the market and that can only come from the key asks within our pledge – which include price certainty, transparent working and strong, long-term relationships that are fair for everyone involved.” Ryan McDonnell, commercial director for Lidl UK, said: “We’re very keen to ensure that our sourcing process supports the growth and development of UK growers, which is vital in encouraging more and more people, particularly our shoppers, to regularly eat more fruit and veg.”


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

UK employers are increasingly struggling to fill jobs in shops, factories and hospitals according to a new report that suggests the shortfall may be down to fewer EU migrants seeking work in the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote. Company bosses are reporting labour and skills shortages throughout the food supply chain as well as in sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality, according to the latest Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and The Adecco Group, which polls more than 1,000 employers. One in four also had evidence that the EU nationals they employed were considering either leaving their organisation or the UK in 2017. Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at CIPD, which represents human resources professionals, pointed to official data which showed that the growth in the number of non-UK EU nationals in employment had slowed in recent months. “This is creating significant recruitment challenges in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles,” he said. “With skills and labour shortages set to continue, there’s a risk that many vacancies will be left unfilled which could act as a brake on output growth in the UK in the years ahead.” The most recent labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that while EU nationals were still arriving in the UK, they were doing so in smaller numbers than in the past. Growth in the number of non-UK nationals from the European Union working in the UK had almost halved from an average of more than 60,000 per quarter in the nine months to June 2016 to just 30,000 in the three months to September 2016. The figures needed to be treated with caution though, warned Davies as they had not been seasonally adjusted. At the end of last year industry groups representing the major supermarkets and food manufacturers warned that EU workers provided “an essential reservoir of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour” and without them food prices would rise. The open letter to the government was signed by 30 food and drink industry bodies, including the Food and Drink Federation, which represents major suppliers, including Marmite maker Unilever and Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods; the British Retail Consortium, which counts Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons among its members, and the National Farmers Union. Employment agencies have warned that the UK’s food industry is facing the worst labour shortage for at least 12 years. The public sector is expected to be severely impacted by the risk of a drop in EU labour, with 43% of education and 49% of healthcare sector employers surveyed in the Labour Market Outlook saying they believed EU migrants among their workforce were considering leaving. The survey found that despite the acuteness of the issue, more than a quarter of employers did not actually know how many EU nationals they had in their workforce. “Employers need to start collecting data about their workforce and review their approach to workforce development and training to avoid a squeeze on skills and the workforce,” continued Davies. “Employers in sectors like retail, hospitality and care, will need to work much harder to attract candidates and combat labour shortages by improving the attractiveness of their jobs … and improving pay and employment conditions where possible.” Another new survey, the London Employment Monitor, also highlights a 29% drop in professionals job hunting in the City last month, as high fliers look for jobs in other financial centres. “Many of our non-British clients are choosing to return home, or seeking opportunities elsewhere in Europe”, said Hakan Enver,operations director, at Morgan McKinley Financial Services. “People wanting to get ahead of the threat of having their right to work revoked is understandable, but is a huge loss for the City”. January is a key month for job hunting with vacancies surging 81% in January from the previous month. But that compared with a surge of 115% a year ago. “Until the terms of Brexit are known and put in motion, the jobs market will remain cautious,” added Enver.


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Compared to most industries subject to the ups and downs of global markets, farming is a cottage industry. Where mining has a few operators dominating the scene, agriculture involves thousands of producers in each country. That simple fact works against the high levels of investment agriculture minister Andrea Leadsom would like to see in the run-up to a hard Brexit. Leadsom wants farmers to embrace productivity-enhancing technology to offset the loss of migrant workers. As the latest figures reveal, money is tight, so that won’t be easy. In 2015, total income from farming was 24% lower than 2014, a fall of £1.25bn to £4bn. The finger of blame was not pointed at the weather, but a crash in commodity prices and a steep rise in the value of the pound. The two factors combined to cut the value of wheat, barley and all other crops priced on global exchanges. But those factors aside, if Britain is to solve its productivity problem, then industries such as agriculture will have to do their bit. According to the chancellor, Britain’s productivity gap with its neighbours – the fact that European rivals produce more economic output per hour worked – has a real impact on living standards. “In the real world, it takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five; which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts,” Hammond said. So farmers need to make their contribution to the conundrum. But Guy Poskitt, vice-chairman of the National Farmers Union’s horticultural board, asks why banks would lend on, or farmers invest in, technology when margins are so thin, a piece of kit might be useful for only three weeks at harvest time and global prices for agricultural produce are volatile. “The banks are not keen to lend against a business case based on new equipment when supermarket contracts can be cancelled at short notice and the equipment is experimental or can quickly become out of date,” he says. That’s not to say volatile incomes and a squeeze on profits mean investment is zero. The agricultural workforce has shrunk dramatically in the postwar period following intense mechanisation. The industry’s productivity has risen in the last couple of years in line with the snail’s pace registered by rest of the British business community. To make faster progress, Poskitt says the current Common Agricultural Policy payments to farmers – soon to become a victim of Brexit – should be replaced by British government investment grants. “Post-Brexit there could be a pot of money that supersedes the single payment to farmers to reward investment,” he says. “That is what Andrea Leadsom should be thinking about.”


News Article | July 28, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Scottish farmers face losing hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidy after Brexit unless the UK government increases funding for Holyrood, a Scottish parliament committee has been told. A senior economist and the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) said the EU referendum vote raised significant doubts over the future of £452m in common agriculture programme spending in Scotland, because of the current Treasury deal to fund Holyrood. Pro-Brexit campaigners insisted during the referendum campaign that all agricultural funding would be protected, as Westminster would equally redistribute the £350m a week it would allegedly save from no longer funding the EU. Prof Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, an economics thinktank at Strathclyde University, told Holyrood’s European and external relations committee, which was recalled from summer recess to investigate the ramifications of the Brexit vote, that this was not currently possible. Under the latest fiscal framework deal for financing Scottish spending, signed off by the then chancellor George Osborne in February, Holyrood would continue to be funded largely by the UK Treasury on a rough per capita basis, through the so-called Barnett formula, and by Scottish taxation. Scotland’s population is about 8% of the UK total, but Scottish farmers receive 18% of the UK’s overall common agricultural policy (CAP) funding under the EU system, including 85% of less-favoured area payments. The industry has slumped in the last few years due to falling prices, increasing its heavy reliance on subsidies. UK ministers, Roy said, would have to find a way of changing the current fiscal support system or protecting Scottish agriculture funding through another route. “I think that’s quite a significant thing which needs to be resolved relatively quickly,” he told MSPs. The NFUS said it is pressing the UK government to guarantee funding at the same levels set out by the CAP for the next four years. But Clare Slipper, the union’s Scottish parliamentary officer, said UK ministers had yet to make any concrete commitments. Slipper added that there was also a “massive question mark” over what the Scottish government was planning to do on farm funding post-Brexit. Leaving the EU meant ministers in Edinburgh would need to introduce their own agricultural policies, which could be far more beneficial to farmers than the CAP. Slipper said: “Our concern is we don’t know whether there will be agricultural funding through the block grant or whether it will be ringfenced or topped up by the Scottish government.” James Withers, of Scotland Food and Drink, said protecting agricultural funding was crucial to the success of many industries that relied on farm produce. His group’s members converted £3bn in agricultural raw materials into products worth £11bn to the Scottish economy. Shortly before the evidence session began, the Fraser of Allander Institute warned that Scotland’s already struggling economy was likely to be hit by a further slowing in the next two years as a direct result of Brexit, potentially going into a technical recession. MSPs were told, however, that the UK’s decision to leave the EU could be very rewarding for Scotland, allowing its major industries such as financial services and fisheries to grow but in different ways. Hugh Chater, director of banking for Virgin Money, which has a large base in Edinburgh, said the city could see a boom in financial services if Scotland won special concessions giving it much better access to the single market than the rest of the UK. He said Scotland could offer “safe harbour” for some other UK banks or financial services firms which were worried about losing their so-called passporting rights to operate in the single market. “I think that’s a very credible view,” he said. The loudest welcome for the UK leaving the EU came from Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation. He said leaving the common fisheries policy (CFP) was an extraordinary chance for Scotland to control fishing in a huge area of the continental shelf. The UK’s exclusive economic zone in the North Sea and Atlantic “was a really, really big patch of prime maritime real estate,” he said. Control over that area had to be defended by UK and Scottish ministers during the Brexit negotiations; it would allow Scotland to overtake Norway and Iceland as major global fish producers. “We have the opportunity, if there’s the political backbone not to trade it away again, to become managing partner in the best piece of the north-east Atlantic for harvesting seafood,” he said. • This article was amended on 29 July 2016. An earlier version said incorrectly that James Withers was from the Scottish Food and Drink Federation.

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