Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has promised drought-stressed farmers to make sure they have what they need in order to provide the nation with high-quality food and ensure that their businesses survive.
His pledge was made during the NFU’s Agricultural Drought summit which brought the farming industry, Government officials and Mr Gove together to focus on the impact the drought is having on British food production.
NFU President Minette Batters said the summit was a ‘wake-up call to Government and policy makers about the importance of British food production and the critical need to manage the volatility that comes with it’.
“The impacts of the dry and hot weather have been hugely challenging for many farms across the country, with many not seeing such weather in their lifetimes,” she said.
“We were pleased to hear after the meeting, that the Secretary of State said he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to make sure farmers can continue to run successful businesses and that food supplies can continue to be healthy’.
The summit discussion focused on the challenges being faced by farmers in relation to irrigation, water shortage, heat stress on livestock, crop loss and a shortage of forage for livestock.
The meeting also heard from farming charities, FCN and RABI, that the relentless pressure on farmers dealing with the drought related issues and significant extra costs is leading to concerns about their mental and physical well-being.
The summit called for:
- Immediate emergency/short-term flexibility around abstraction of water for farmers and growers including granting the ability to trade water between farms;
- Support for the logistics of transporting fodder and straw around the country to areas where there are shortages;
- Speeding up of BPS and Countryside Stewardship payments already owed to farm businesses.