Drought could cause price rises and shortages into next year, farmers warn

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Farmers have warned that the drought will have long-lasting effects that threaten to affect UK crops next year, drive up prices of beef, lamb, wheat and other crops and threaten the country’s food security. give.

Rising temperatures and the driest July since 1935 have forced growers to return to planting because the ground is too hard, while others are contemplating whether it’s worth sowing seeds this year.

If energy and fertilizer prices remain at record-high levels, farmers will be at risk of major losses next year. They are also facing a severe labor shortage, which means they may not have the labor they need when it comes time to harvest their crops.

Adding to that list of problems, the government on Friday officially declared a drought in the south-west, southern, central and eastern parts of England amid the ongoing heat. Water companies have planned their own droughts, including a ban on hose pipes and fines for people who break them.

The extreme conditions have prompted many pastoralists to cut back their herds after incurring heavy bills to buy fodder at inflated prices to make up for the hay shortage.

Sheep supplies are likely to be further strained after sheep farmers warned that sheep would produce fewer offspring because they were fed low-quality hay.

Oilseed rape, a major source of oil that is used in thousands of products on supermarket shelves, will usually be planted from this month, but the National Farmers Union said most “were not even thinking” about it because conditions were so bad. and the seeds do not germinate.

Stephen Briggs, a farmer in Cambridgeshire, said a “perfect storm” of factors, including labor shortages after Brexit, meant that “at best we’ll have a big increase in food prices, at least we’ll have a shortage” unless The government does not take immediate action.

His farm, which produces fruits and grains, has received just 110 mm of rain this year against an average of 600 mm.

“The crop just ran out of steam. We had the earliest harvest ever and it was not because the harvest was over. It just died,” he said.

Despite Mr Briggs taking measures to reduce the effects of climate change, such as planting orchards between crop fields to provide some heat protection, yields are 30 percent lower in dry areas of fields.

A harvested wheat field in Gloucestershire

“It will not be resolved after just one week of rain. The impact will last for next year,” he said.

“A lot of grass is dead south of Sheffield. It takes time to regrow. It is so dry that normal activity in the soil has stopped. Earthworms have gone into hibernation.

“Some people say climate change isn’t real. It’s real, it’s here. Just look out the window.”

Mr Briggs, who worked in Africa for many years in agriculture, urged the government to invest in Britain’s water security to mitigate the effects of future droughts.

“We are not prepared for climate change in this country,” he said.

“We have systems in place to carry the excess water to the sea but we are useless in conserving water. We have become used to temperatures that are not too hot, not too cold and that do not receive regular rain. This is changing and we need to adapt ourselves.”

The Labor Party accused the government of “poor planning and neglect” of the UK’s water system. According to Labor estimates, leaking pipes allowed 117 liters of water per household to be wasted every day over the past three years.

David Barton, deputy director of livestock at NFU, said farmers have always faced challenges with the weather but the current situation is “very extreme”.

“We need to look at food security, much more than we do. We all take it lightly, but this season has really brought attention to how fragile the whole system is,” he said.

He urged supermarkets to charge producers more to give them the financial security they need to cover costs.

“Supermarkets don’t like raising prices, but they have to do so and pay producers more. Fertilizer is too high; The cost of fodder, wheat and barley has increased significantly. Retailers should recognize this and increase prices,” Mr Barton said.

Robin Milton, 61, who farms cattle and sheep with his son on Exmoor, on the border of Devon and Somerset, said the effects of the dry season “are now starting to take effect”.

“It’s pretty phenomenal – I’ve been farming here since 1980, and there are springs I’ve never seen before that have completely dried up,” Mr Milton said.

“A lot of the grass has been burned, and any crop of fodder that we usually put down for autumn fodder for lambs … has just disappeared, quite honestly. Some of it even sprouts Haven’t either.”

Mr Milton said his sheep and cattle “seem quite resilient, as long as they have plenty of water and some shade, which is a challenge, they seem comfortable enough”.

He added: “But undoubtedly, I doubt we will see an impact later in the year.”

Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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