Farms at risk due to long dry summer

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 09 August 2018

Some farms are being forced to use winter feed.

Some farms are being forced to use winter feed.

Archant

Farms in North Somerset are struggling during the hot and dry summer.

The National Farmers Union held a drought summit last week to address the problems farmers are facing, including water shortages, limited forage for livestock to graze on and losing vital crops due to scorching temperatures.

North Somerset farmers are under pressure to find ways to feed livestock and to keep afloat during a prolonged period of hot weather following a harsh winter.

The director of Lye Cross Farm in Redhill, Nick Green, said: “If two inches of rain fell this weekend, we’d still have this issue for the next six months.

“A prolonged dry spell has meant the grass has stopped growing, and now some farmers have had to give their livestock winter feed because of it.”

July saw some parts of the UK reach temperatures of 35C, and it was the joint second warmest month, along with 1983, on record since 1910.

Nick said: “If there’s a shortage of wheat and barley, which we put in with our hay to feed the animals, the price of these raw materials will naturally increase.

“In previous years farms would have imported feed, but this is a problem because other countries are experiencing even longer periods of hot weather than we are.

“This is now a global issue and it’s affecting farms with 50 up to 500 livestock, so it’s not just us – we are all suffering.”

Weston’s distribution business the Regency Purchasing Group has also warned of an additional problem – due to the cost of feeding livestock going up for farmers, so too will the price of goods people buy in the shops.

The managing director of the business, Alex Demetriou, said: “Sadly, this will inevitably have a knock-on effect to the cost of produce.

“It’s not just because farmers are having to source and replace the winter feed they set aside, but also because of the amount of water their animals require during periods of warm weather – which is significantly higher than usual.”

“Harvests are generally lower, and while some producers have irrigation systems to help combat the heat, the costs of using them is becoming more expensive.

“Everyone has enjoyed some wonderful weather recently, but farmers, fruit and vegetable producers are now crying out now for a decent period of rain.”

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