Drought summit called by NFU to discuss crippling impact of heatwave

NFU has called for an agricultural drought summit as the ongoing heatwave bites
NFU has called for an agricultural drought summit as the ongoing heatwave bites

The NFU is seeking urgent action to address the crippling impact of the dry, hot weather on farms across the country.

An agricultural drought summit has been called next week which will see the NFU sit down with representatives from other farming organisations, Defra, the Environment Agency and others to discuss what can be done to help mitigate the impact of the ongoing heatwave.

Many parts of England and Wales haven’t seen any significant rain since the end of May resulting in tinderbox conditions, severely reduced grass growth and depleted yields for some crops.

Areas of concern for the farming industry include short and long-term challenges including the availability of forage for livestock and dairy farmers, meaning producers are being forced to eat into winter fodder supplies.

Available water resources for irrigated crops and abstraction restrictions for some farmers is also a concern, and growing conditions for cereals and rain-fed crops, and a risk of standing crop fires.

NFU President Minette Batters will chair the meeting. She said the situation on the ground is "hugely challenging" across all sectors.

“There could be serious concerns for many farmers if this extended spell of warmer, drier weather continues as the long-range forecast suggests,” Mrs Batters said.

“I know some areas are expected to see thunderstorms and rain over the next couple of days but that won’t mitigate the many issues farmers are experiencing.”

The NFU President said it is "vital" the industry and government comes up with a plan to the issues that are now emerging across the industry.

“This unprecedented spell of weather really should be a wake-up call for us all. It’s a timely reminder that we shouldn’t take food production for granted. Farming is one of the most affected industries when it comes to managing volatility,” she added.

“Farmers have been fantastic advocates for change and are constantly adapting their businesses to deal with the challenges they face every day such as the weather. We need Government policies that invest in our sector and to support the vital work of farmers as food producers.”

The agricultural drought summit is due to take place on Wednesday 1 August 2018 at the NFU’s London office.