Extreme weather costs farming £1.3bn

Saturday, January 5, 2013
11:01 AM

Extreme weather events have cost the agricultural industry an estimated £1.3bn last year, said farmers’ leader Peter Kendall.

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“The National Farmers’ Union estimates the appalling weather of 2012 has led to a financial black hole on Britain’s farms amounting to £1.3bn and many farmers are in areas still under water or facing a double-whammy of huge feed bills for their livestock,” he added.

NFU president Mr Kendall has called for fresh government thinking on farm policy as the industry meets the challenges of global warming.

“We know drought in the key production regions across the globe is the main driver for rocketing animal feed costs while in stark contrast at home, a wash-out summer further compounded by a sodden autumn and winter has hammered production,” said Mr Kendall.

“But extreme weather will certainly also require fresh thinking from agricultural policy makers and the whole food supply chain to ensure that our farmers can adapt and our food supply is resilient.

“Better relationships and sharing of risk in the supply chain will help farmers plan. The appointment of the Grocery Supply Code of Practice Adjudicator in early 2013 will be a really positive move, helping to root out bad practice in the supply chain.

“In 2013 we are likely to see the conclusion to protracted negotiations for both the EU budget and a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. The NFU has never seen money as the only answer to the challenges faced by farmers.

“And certainly we have not argued for the CAP to be exempt from cuts. However, we have urged the UK government to help make current, distorted markets work properly and to ensure our farmers are treated fairly.

“In years like 2012 it is very clear the support farming receives from the CAP is an absolute lifeline to many farmers. If there is to be a reduction in these payments it should take place evenly across Europe’s single market.

“Recently, we have heard government representatives refer to these support payments as ‘worthless’, arguing that payments should only go to environmental goals.

“I firmly believe the only likely outcome of this strategy is further discrimination against English farmers. What is more, this ideologically-driven approach is outdated given the increasing volatility in global prices and the challenging global climate.

“Our industry is well-placed to help deliver jobs and growth in 2013 but for the longer-term we need fresh thinking that builds confidence and resilience for meeting one of society’s greatest challenges; feeding a growing population in a smarter, more sustainable way.”

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