Shropshire Star

NFU plea to major retailers over farming support as rainfall continues to cause misery

UK farming Unions have called on major retailers’ commitment to support the industry in response to extremely challenging and disruptive weather this spring.


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Exceptional rainfall and a succession of damaging storms have impacted livestock, arable and horticultural sectors and disrupted individual farm businesses the length and breadth of the country.

Lambing, calving, planting and field work have all proved very difficult, bringing additional cost to the business.

And Edward Garratt, a Shropshire County Adviser for the NFU, recently said the record-breaking rain has put serious financial and mental health pressure on food producers in the county.

Now, in a joint letter on behalf of the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and Ulster Farmers’ Union, calls have been made for a major retailer commitment to support the industry during this difficult time.

The letter states: “These challenges come at a time when many of our members are already struggling to remain viable due to the perfect storm of sustained and spiralling production costs, low market returns, and increasing levels of regulation.

"This latest challenge, whilst not new, is more acute than ever, and is compounding the pressure on our members.

“Farmers and growers continue to bear the lion’s share of the risk within their supply chains, and this is unsustainable. We are in discussions with our respective Governments on further support to assist the industry in navigating these short-term challenges, but we also recognise the important role which retailers have to play in helping the industry to withstand this latest crisis.”

The UK Unions have asked major retailers to implement a steadfast commitment to local sourcing as well as fair supply chains.

They also call for flexibility on product specification.

"In the face of these unprecedented challenges it is possible that what we produce may now not fully conform to the exact specification previously agreed," the NFU said. "We urge you to show understanding and flexibility in these circumstances; our food will still be produced to exceptionally high standards of quality and safety."

The NFU has also called for rapid payment of suppliers and promotion of local suppliers.

The letter concludes: “It is no exaggeration to say that the current challenges are some of the most acute the industry has faced in a very long time, and we need your support more than ever to maintain food production across the UK and safeguard our food security.

"Our members will continue to work tirelessly in the face of this latest adversity to maintain their high standards of production and welfare that your customers have now come to expect. We now urge you to support our members’ efforts.”

Mr Garratt recently told the Shropshire Star: “I have never known it as bad as this. There are farms that could go out of business because of this but even more concerning, for me, is their mental well-being because some will be at the end of their tether.

“Thinking about how much further ahead I was last year on my own, small farm, it’s frightening, and when you look at some of the bigger farms, it’s very tough right now.”

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