Plea for help as farmers face challenges of soaring temperatures and rising costs

Droughts and rising costs due to inflation will “force people out of farming”, and workers need to “talk to each other” if struggling, farmers have said.

Farmers need to check combine harvesters in extreme heat
Farmers need to check combine harvesters in extreme heat

British farmers have detailed the difficulties caused by drought, which has forced an earlier harvest and will leave them struggling to store and sell goods.

This comes as a four-day amber warning for extreme heat in parts of England is due to come into effect from Thursday, with temperatures set to climb to 36C in some places.

Some farmers are also finding it more expensive to feed their milk making animals, while others have been hit by combine harvester and wildfires due to the dry weather.

James Finton, from Finton and Sons, The Wood Farm, Adbaston, Stafford, said: "This dry weather definitely will challenge food stocks in the Autumn.

"With the grass too dry for the cattle to eat we are having to buy in food for the animals which increases our costs.

"As we are governed on what we can charge for our product we can not pass those costs on in the price."

Georgie Hyde, NFU environment adviser, outlined the current problems facing Staffordshire farmers and called for Government intervention.

She said: "The impacts of this prolonged spell of dry weather are hugely challenging for many farms across Staffordshire and it is causing concern for all farming sectors, especially as we look ahead to the autumn.

"This highlights the urgent need for Government and its agencies to better plan for and manage the nation’s water resources. This will help build resilience into the farming sector and provide investment opportunities for irrigation equipment and to build more on-farm reservoirs.

“Staffordshire has seen a serious lack of rainfall and some crops, like maize, are showing real signs of stress, and there are also big challenges for farmers needing to irrigate field vegetables and potatoes."

She added: “The dry weather has also severely hampered grass growth which could hit feed supplies for the winter, adding additional costs to livestock farming businesses at a time when costs are continuing to increase significantly.

"While there are obvious challenges we are pleased that Harvest 2022 is well under way and that the combines are rolling across Staffordshire – we are well ahead of schedule.

Jeremy Lowe, NFU Staffordshire county adviser, warned the danger of burning rubbish, discarding cigarettes, glass bottles or using disposal barbecues.

He said: “Farm fires are lethal, they put farmers, their crops and stock at great risk as well as destroying buildings, feedstuffs and machinery and are of course a huge threat to wildlife and habitat.

"Any farm fire can bring a farm business to a standstill – causing many thousands of pounds worth of damage and leaving a huge clear up operation.

“The NFU and our Staffordshire members work closely with the fire service, police and other authorities and it is vital we continue to focus on farm fire prevention but also give farmers the right guidance in case they are in the awful position of having a blaze at their business.

"I think it is also vital those out and about enjoying the countryside also recognise the potentially devastating consequences their actions can have."

Andrew Francis, 55, from Breckland, Norfolk, who grows root vegetables and combinable crops, detailed the difficulties caused by early harvesting after the grain season only had 35 per cent of its long-term average rainfall.

He said it is a “really difficult commercial environment to try and diversify in” because farming profit margins have “eroded so much over the last few years”, leaving no “resilience funds” for a lot of farm owners.

He said: “I can understand why people would (leave farming), and I can understand that there are a lot of barriers out there that make it difficult to look positively on the future.

“I think that is the problem, and that will force people out of farming.

“The reality is that in the high temperatures and the persistently dry conditions, we just haven’t been able to keep up with demand.

“There will be a negative impact but it’s very difficult to know how big that negative impact will be.”

Mr Francis urged farmers to “exhaust every avenue for help” and speak to “as many people as possible”, but he accepted some people have done so and will leave the industry regardless.

Due to the rising numbers of farmers leaving the industry, the Government has offered the Lump Sum Exit Scheme which will provide a payment to help them.

Farmers are expected to either rent or sell their land, or surrender their tenancy in return for the payment, and have until September 30 to apply.

The scheme, which opened in April, followed a public consultation that revealed some farmers want to leave or retire from the industry but found it difficult for financial reasons.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News