Drought summit: exceptional weather requires exceptional action

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) will be represented at tomorrow’s drought summit hosted by the National Farmers Union, and is calling for all parts of the farm to fork supply chain to play their part in addressing the challenges thrown up by this year’s extremes of weather.

The prolonged, bitterly cold and wet winter at the start of the year followed by a short, late spring and baking-hot, arid conditions over the summer, has presented the farming community with an unprecedented set of difficulties. The impacts of this year’s conditions are likely to be felt for some time to come.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn said “livestock and dairy farmers are in some of the most vulnerable positions with little by way of grass and fodder available for feeding now, and too little stored up for the winter months having eaten into previous stocks earlier in the year. Vegetable crops will also take a hit as will yields of arable crops on lighter land.”

“Everybody in the supply chain needs to work constructively to overcome these difficulties. Domestic retailers and food service operations must continue to do their bit by sourcing UK product where possible, and must not seek to profit unduly by raising consumer prices given the strong margins they are able to secure in normal circumstances,“ said Mr Dunn.

“Landlords should not seek to capitalise on increased demand for grassland and fodder crops by hiking farm rents across the board. This year should be a year for holding rents steady, not only because of the weather but also the uncertain times ahead,” said Mr Dunn.

“The Government must act by being flexible within the regulatory environment, and to ensure that payments due to the farming community through agricultural and environmental schemes arrive on time. Budgets and cash flows are already under pressure, and this must not be compounded by poor scheme administration by the Rural Payments Agency and Natural England,” said Mr Dunn.

“Policymakers must also focus on the long-term post Brexit, including establishing plans for extreme external forces such as the effects of climate change, which can wreak havoc on the agricultural community. Ensuring a sustainable and resilient farming industry delivering high-quality food to consumers, produced using the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental management, is very much in the public good and a legitimate area of concern for Government,” said Mr Dunn.

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.