Extreme weather conditions lead to long-term fears for food production - Thorne Widgery

Farmers fear that extreme weather conditions could push UK food prices up this year and cause both short and long-term problems and the two-months drought following a wet Spring is already thought to be causing problems for all sectors of the agricultural industry.

According to the National Farmers Union (NFU), staple foods, from bread to onions, milk and meat may be in shorter supply than usual this year and prices may have to rise.

A spokesman for the organisation said that early indications suggested that harvesting for basic food, such as grains, was taking place early, but it is too soon to say exactly what the yields might be.

Milk yields are also down because of the conditions, although according to organic dairy company, Yeo Valley, “there is still plenty of milk around”. However, given that many farmers are still in debt because of low prices in the past few years, the current conditions will hurt them further.

Meanwhile, the Tenant Farmers Association claims that confidence in the beef market has “taken a hit” as a result of lower supplies of fodder than usual and very little grass. A spokesman added that store markets are down in price, which may lead to shortages into next year.

Another problem for livestock farmers is the lack of straw, used for bedding. Straw length is short because of the impact of the hot weather on the growth of wheat and barley, and straw was already in desperately short supply because of the previous year’s wet harvest.

All of this has led to predictions by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, which provided £2 million in help to farming families last year, that it will have a “busy Autumn and Winter”.