Farmers left counting the cost of a soggy summer

SHOPPERS in the Cheddar area could soon be forking out for more expensive groceries after the torrential July rains. The news comes as feed prices rocketed for farm animals such as cows, which will now have a knock-on effect on the price consumers pay fo

SHOPPERS in the Cheddar area could soon be forking out for more expensive groceries after the torrential July rains. The news comes as feed prices rocketed for farm animals such as cows, which will now have a knock-on effect on the price consumers pay for milk, cheese and beef. In summer most farmers let their cattle out to graze on the fields, but as the ground has become wet and muddy, the animals have trampled their own food.Extra grass and hay is dried during the summer to feed the animals in winter when they are indoors, but farmers have not been able to do this because of the rain. South West National Farmers' Union (NFU) spokesman Peter Body, who lives on a dairy farm in Barton, near Compton Bishop, says he is lucky because he made his silage early this year. But district councillor Jeff Savage, who keeps horses on his farm in Nyland, Cheddar, said farmers are having to pay 600 per cent over the normal price for feed. He said: "Farmers who don't make their own feed are the ones suffering the most, as their suppliers are keeping it for themselves."A small hay bale usually costs about £1.50 but I have seen farmers charging £6 and a friend said she had to buy some for £9."We usually get people in to make up our silage so on the hot days like Sunday and Monday we had people down here desperately trying to get it all done. If the warm weather carries on I think we will be okay but if not, it could be a very hard winter."Mr Body added: "The floods mean the grass and hay the animals usually eat is poor quality, so they are not producing milk, so that is in short supply at the moment. "Farmers all over the Cheddar area have lost around 15-20 per cent of their milk because they simply cannot get enough food into the cows. The silage, which is a form of hay farmers use to feed the cattle, is filled with water and if it hasn't already rotted, the cows just cannot eat enough for a healthy diet.


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