Business Farming

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Planners' green light for controversial dairy unit

International Briefs

Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30

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ONE IN A MELON: Palestinian farmers collect melons at a farm in the West Bank village of
Tammoun, near Nablus, last week REUTERS/ABED OMAR QUSINI
ONE IN A MELON: Palestinian farmers collect melons at a farm in the West Bank village of Tammoun, near Nablus, last week REUTERS/ABED OMAR QUSINI

Planning authorities in Wales have given the green light for a 1,000-cow dairy unit. Following a six-year wait, 34-year-old Fraser Jones has secured permission to go ahead with the construction of a massive 72-unit rotary milking parlour and nearly 100,000 square foot of cubicle space.

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The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) had opposed the €4.4m development, on the basis that it was an example of factory farming that would compromise the animals' welfare.

The original application made in 2008 was refused on the basis of smell, noise and animal welfare concerns. As the issue gained greater public attention, a public inquiry was ordered in March 2013. The Welsh ministry approved the development in October 2013, but it was blocked by another legal challenge by the WSPA.

Mr Jones claimed that the process had cost him €375,000 so far, but that he had no regrets. He hopes to get started on the construction this week. The milking parlour has been sitting in crates for six years.

The unit will employ 12 full-time and up to four part-time staff.

Simon Pope, director of campaigns and communications for WSPA, said that the organisation was saddened and disappointed that the project was given the go-ahead.

"WSPA's serious concerns about the animal welfare of the cows within this system, as well as the impact it will likely have on the local area, consumers and other dairy farmers remain.

"Despite the loss, the charity believes the legal fight was worth undertaking and that its actions were firmly in the public interest," Mr Pope said.

FONTERRA PAYS €97K FOR BOTULISM SCARE

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has agreed to pay €97,000 to NZX, a share-trading company based in Wellington, to settle a claim over last year's botulism scare.

NZX claimed that Fonterra breached disclosure rules by being too slow to make an announcement on contaminated whey protein.

Fonterra maintains that it notified the market as quickly as possible, despite the share price of the company falling in the 24 hour period prior to the announcement after markets had closed on Friday, August 2 last year.

Since the incident, Fonterra has set up a Food Integrity Quality Council, but the company remains adamant that no breach in protocol occurred.

The New Zealand dairy industry was rocked by the revelation last August that three batches of whey manufactured at its Waikato plant contained a strain of clostridium capable of causing botulism.

The Kiwi ministry responsible for agriculture later claimed that the bacteria did not contain botulism-type strains and that the affected batch posed no risk to public health.

However, this is not the end of the issue for Fonterra, with a separate legal action pending from global dairy heavyweight, Danone.

Danone's Nutricia brand of infant formula was heavily affected by the scare, with profits at the division falling from €39m in 2012 to just €1.3m last year.

US WHEAT CROP YIELD HIT HARD BY DROUGHT

The US wheat crop is smaller than was earlier predicted due to drought, but maize and soybean crop expectations have changed little in the last month, according to the latest USDA crop report.

Overall, winter wheat yields are expected to be 2pc down compared to last month's predictions, and 10pc down from last year. Hard red winter wheat, the type often used to make bread, is also down 3pc in the latest bulletin.

"Severe drought conditions in the Southern Plains had a dramatic impact on the winter wheat crop, with poor fields in Oklahoma and Texas being baled for hay or otherwise abandoned," said the report, which also noted that recent rains were unlikely to save crops.

Kansas also has been hard hit by drought, with yields down 6.5pc.

However, maize and soybeans yield remain unchanged.

A cool, wet start to spring delayed corn and soybean planting, but weather improved in the second week of May, and the USDA said the corn conditions are now the best in four years for the 18 states that grow most of the nation's crop. These include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Pockets of bad weather have frustrated some farmers.

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