Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 356
Posted on: October 30th, 2017


This week’s quote of the week comes from Iran’s Deputy Agriculture Minister, Hassan Rokni, on Iran’s ambitious plans to grab a bigger share of the global milk and dairy market.

“Iran exported 850,000 tons of dairy products in the last fiscal year. Exports of milk and related dairy products are projected to reach 1 million tons this year…with milk powder exports during the five months to August 22 showing the country had a monthly export average of 100,000 tons. “


The report, by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), says the “worst-case scenario” would cut average farm profits from £38,000 a year to just £15,000.

The analysis tries to model the effects of cheaper imported food, reduced subsidies and more expensive labour.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “This report is based on hypothetical and highly unlikely scenarios that do not reflect the government’s negotiating position.”

The ADHB research looked at three possible outcomes of Brexit:

  1. “Business as usual”, with trade arrangement staying much the same and subsidies continuing. Average annual profits might rise to £41,000
  2. Reduced subsidies and tariff-free access to the UK for foreign producers. Average annual profits fall to £15,000
  3. A “cliff-edge” Brexit with trade based on WTO rules, and tariffs alongside a big cut in subsidies. Average annual profits fall to £20,000

“Under the three scenarios outlined in the report, changes in the UK’s trade relationships will impact farmers’ bottom line when the UK leaves the single market, whether or not a free trade agreement is negotiated with the EU,” said the Board.

Dairy and pig farmers may benefit from rising prices, the report says. On the other hand, significant exporters such as cereal producers and sheep farmers would suffer due to the increased cost of exporting products to the EU. And where businesses rely on migrant workers, higher employment costs due to more stringent immigration restrictions will also push up farmers’ costs dramatically, especially in horticulture.


Think of urban farming and the images that may come to mind are community garden, vertical greenhouse or even a rooftop garden.

The farm Steven Dring operates in south London isn’t like that. In fact, it’s not even visible from street level. The operation is situated in an air raid shelter 100 feet underground that has been left vacant since World War II.

“It does seem completely counterintuitive to build a farm underneath the soil, but it’s actually one of the best environments to do it…

You’ve got that duvet of 100 feet of soil, which insulated the tunnel – it’s like someone’s built a greenhouse for us. You have LED lights and hydroponics, which have been around forever. We just put it all together and re-purpose an unloved space.”

The operation, called Growing Underground, is competitive with traditional farming because their model excludes many of the costs large agribusiness has to contend with. The start-up sells locally, meaning it doesn’t have to ship produce long distances. Another advantage is they don’t have to hear or cool the underground tunnel, which stays at steady temperatures because it’s so far under the earth.

“The one cost that we have consistently all year round is our energy cost, the cost for the LED lighting…our seeds cost the same, our water costs the same, our nutrients cost the same.:” says Dring. Hydroponic agriculture grows food without, soil suspending plants in water filled with nutriests. Because the water can be captured and reused, hydroponics uses only about one-third of the water consumed in traditional farming. That’s especially important these days because industrial-scale agriculture has severely depleted the soil in many places and caused other environmental harm.


This week’s chart of the week comes from Bloomberg’s France to Make Least Wine in 60 Years After Bad Weather Hits Grapes with wine volume expected to fall 19% (equivalent of 4.9 billion bottles), the Agriculture Ministry forecasts, the smallest vintage in 60 years after spring frost damaged vines at Bordeaux, while summer storms caused grape rot in Champagne.







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