Wet harvest could push farmers 'closer to breaking point'

Farmers could face crippling cash flow pressures over the next 12 months, the NFU has warned
Farmers could face crippling cash flow pressures over the next 12 months, the NFU has warned

A wet harvest could push farmers closer to breaking point, the NFU has warned following months of poor weather coupled with high production costs.

The union said the resilience of farmers was being 'tested to its limit', as they could face crippling cash flow pressures over the next 12 months.

It follows a wet winter and spring, surging production costs, reduce farm support and low confidence across the farming industry.

Speaking at this year's Cereals Event, NFU President Tom Bradshaw stressed that without sufficient clarity on agricultural funding and support, the sector could be ‘sleepwalking’ into a crisis.

He also highlighted the culminative impact on farmers’ mental health. “If we have another wet harvest this year it will, without doubt, take a toll on their mental health and well-being."

With the general election looming (4 July), the NFU has called for the prospective governments to clarify their position on the level of support to safeguard farming businesses.

“We need clarity on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), as to how it is going to enable investment in food production while protecting the environment,” Mr Bradshaw said.

“There are 70 million people living in the UK and investment in our food security should be an absolute priority for the next government."

He added that the next generation needed to be attracted to the industry, asking "are we going to be a museum of agriculture living in the past - or one that is driving the future?”

Prior to the Cereals Event, NFU combinable crops chair Jamie Burrows echoed similar concerns and highlighted how many farmers had been unable to get onto fields to plant crops, with many having experienced significant crop losses.

He described how it is now a 'wait and see game' in the run-up to harvest and that farmers are 'in in the lap of the weather gods'.

The NFU recently launched the the sixth #YourHarvest campaign, which aims to highlight to consumers the work that arable farmers do.

The campaign will use videos and pictures across platforms to share what is happening on farm during harvest, helping to educate the public about harvest.

What has the NFU been campaigning for?

Ahead of the general election, some of the unions key asks have included:

• A commitment to a UK agricultural budget that underpins sustainable domestic food production - of £5.5 billion.

• Developing core production standards that apply to all agri-food imports.

• Establishing a new food security index and target, including a statutory duty to monitor and report on domestic food production levels each year.

• A smooth transition to new environmental schemes that are open to all farmers, less bureaucratic and ensure profitable long-term food-producing businesses.

• A commitment to source 50% of food into the public sector from British farms.