Urgent action needed to tackle rising costs of food production: NFU

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The NFU is calling for action over British food production.
The NFU is calling for action over British food production.

Related tags: Supply chain

Urgent action is needed to prevent rising costs impacting on British food production, a National Farmers Union (NFU) survey has warned.

It said that spiraling costs were forcing Britain’s farmers to make significant changes to their food production plans, with some facing the prospect of going out of business.

The survey also revealed that a third of arable farmers have made changes to their cropping plans in the last four months, which 90% of growers attribute to rocketing fertiliser costs. 

The survey also indicated that farmers were beginning to switch from growing milling wheat for bread to feed wheat for animals, because it has a lower fertiliser requirement.

Milk production

A survey of dairy farmers showed that 7% of producers believed they were likely to stop producing milk by 2024, which according to the NFU nationally could mean 840 producers leaving the industry. 

Over the next two years, dairy farmers were most concerned about prices of feed (93%), fuel (91%), energy (89%) and fertiliser (88%).  

The NFU has called on the Government to introduce a statutory duty for ministers to assess the impact any new policy or regulation will have on domestic food production.

“We have some of the world’s best farmers who are passionate about growing a plentiful supply of food, produced to world-leading standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and sustainability,"​ said NFU president Minette Batters. "Britain’s climate is perfect for growing and farming a diverse range of food. It’s more important than ever that we all value that and don’t take it for granted.

'Crisis of confidence'

“However, costs are rising rapidly on farms across the country and across all sectors. It’s already having an impact on the food that we are producing as a nation as well as leading to a crisis of confidence among Britain’s farmers. These survey results clearly set out what we have to lose if nothing is done.”

She added that while farming has always been a volatile business the current market with fertiliser prices doubling, feed and fuel prices rising, and the variable role of the weather, means the decisions farmers are making now 'will feel more like a gamble than ever before'.

The NFU call comes as environment secretary, George Eustice is set to announce further funding for research projects to boost farmers’ businesses and help improve the environmental impact of farming.

Eustice is to confirm that £12.5m from the Farming Innovation Programme will be set aside for research and development focused on ‘sustainable farm-based proteins’.  In partnership with UKRI this funding will be made available for farmers, growers, businesses and academics to collaborate on projects that seek to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farm-based protein production. 

“Improving farm profitability and tackling environmental challenges requires us to allow the natural cycle of life to operate fully," ​Eustice said. "Rather than seeing farm wastes like slurry as a problem and a cost, we need to start recognising that they are actually a resource that could be monetised to boost farm income.”

 

Related topics: Supply Chain, Fresh produce

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