Agri News 21/9/21.

Land-based fish farming has a bright future, according to supporters, despite setbacks suffered by one of its major operators, Atlantic Sapphire. The company lost 500 tonnes of fish this year after technical issues. It also feared running out of oxygen, which had been bought up by US hospitals hit by a new wave of coronavirus infections. Land-based farms have no exposure to the ocean other than fast-flowing, temperature-controlled water, which is pumped in and out of the fish tanks around the clock.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to reports. Researchers have called for tougher action to prevent illegal agriculture-led deforestation in the region, after efforts were hampered by budget cuts for the environment ministry and environmental protection agencies.

Cases of the deadly pig disease African swine fever among the wild boar population in Germany have passed 2,000 a year, after the virus first spread from Poland. Ten farms have been affected so far, with thousands of pigs culled. China has still not lifted its ban on German pork imports as a result of the ASF cases.

UK news

As many as 70,000 British pigs are set to be destroyed over the next few weeks, due to staff shortages in the industry of up to 13%, according to the National Pig Association. The number of producers is also declining, as they struggle with higher feed and labour costs and inadequate market prices for pigs.

New restrictions on the transport of farm animals are to be introduced. As well as a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter overseas, there will be limits on domestic journey times and a ban on journeys during very cold or hot weather.

A Conservative MP has lodged a bill to ban the use of cages in egg production in the UK, which are still used for about half the national flock. A commitment to phase out their use was contained in the last Conservative election manifesto; however, the industry has said any ban would also have to apply immediately to imports of eggs and egg products.

Meanwhile, campaigners are calling for UK chicken consumption to be reined in and for an immediate ban on new intensive poultry sheds. They cite the damaging impact that soya, grown in South America but fed to UK chickens, is having on the world’s climate and on wildlife in the countries where it is produced. The UK produces about a billion chickens a year, the great majority of which are reared in indoor units.

Vegan activists have blockaded one of the UK’s major dairy distribution plants, demanding that owners Arla become plant-based by 2025. A report from Arla, a farmers’ cooperative, found its dairy farmers were producing milk with a carbon footprint around half the global average. It said it intends to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on retailer Marks & Spencer to stop labelling its farmed salmon as “responsibly sourced”, which they say is misleading because of pollution, overfishing and animal welfare concerns. In response, M&S has said its salmon is reared to globally leading standards, backed by multiple farm audits from independent bodies, including RSPCA Assured.

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