Agri crime incidents rise by 11%

The number of crimes reported to the PSNI which relate to agriculture increased by 11% last year.

Official figures released by the PSNI show there were 226 incidents of burglary and theft on NI farms during 2022.

It marks the first annual increase in agricultural crime since 2016, although the figure remains well below the 10-year average of 480 incidents.

Across the 11 policing districts in NI, the highest rate of agricultural crime occurred in Newry, Mourne and Down, where 42 incidents were reported during 2022. The next highest total was 40 incidents in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

Aside from Belfast City, the policing district with the lowest total was Ards and North Down, where four agricultural crimes were reported last year.

Labour woos NFU in Birmingham

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the UK Labour Party, made a strong pitch to National Farmers’ Union (NFU) members at the organisation’s annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.

“We care deeply about the countryside, but all too often in the past, we have come across as the party of urban Britain,” he acknowledged.

Starmer made a commitment that under a Labour government, at least 50% of all food purchased by the public sector will be produced locally.

“That is £1.2bn of public money spent on quality food that is genuinely better for peoples’ health. And 50% is just the minimum, we will do everything to go beyond it,” he said.

The Labour leader was critical of the current Conservative government, particularly its handling of post-Brexit trade deals and the rollout of new Environmental Land Management schemes in England.

“Rolling these schemes out well is the difference between viable farming businesses and abandoned farms,” he said.

BVD positives hit new low in NI

The number of BVD-positive cattle on NI farms is at its lowest level since compulsory testing began in 2016. The latest figures from Animal Health and Welfare NI (AHWNI) show there are 58 BVD positive cattle alive on 45 farms and 17 of these cattle had a positive test result more than four weeks ago. “Prompt identification and removal of cattle that are Persistently Infected (PI) with BVD are the keys to BVD control,” reads a statement from AHWNI.