NFU to host agricultural drought summit tomorrow

NFU policy experts and commodity board chairmen will sit down with representatives from other farming organisations, Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) at an agricultural drought summit to be held tomorrow (August 1) at the NFU’s London office.

The summit will also be attended by representatives from farming charities RABI and Farming Community Network, 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:

  • Availability of forage for livestock and dairy farmers forcing producers to use winter fodder supplies.
  • Available water resources for irrigated crops and abstraction restrictions for some farmers.
  • Growing conditions for cereals and rain-fed crops and a risk of standing crop fires.

NFU president Minette Batters 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. 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.

“It is vital that we come up with a plan and solutions to the issues that are now emerging across the industry. That’s why the NFU is calling this emergency summit next week in an attempt to look at ways to alleviate the pressures that are building on many farmers and growers.”

Ms Batters added: “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.

“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.”

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