Hampshire Farmers In Crisis Talks


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Farmers from Hampshire will be in London today to take part in a crisis agricultural drought summit which has been called by the NFU. They’re seeking some answers as to what they can realistically do after days without rain.

Isobel Bretherton is from the NFU in Hampshire: “The rain we have received over the weekend will be relief for most farmers and growers with rainfall dependent crops, even though it comes during harvest.

“However, we have received almost no rain, bar a couple of showers, since late May. This means that grass growth slowed and halted in June, becoming non existent by early July, with cattle farmers most affected.

“Far less grass has been harvested to conserve as silage (preserved grass kept for winter feed) than in a normal year. Although hay has been good quality, yields may be down.”


(Picture: All baled and ready to go at this farm near Stockbridge at the weekend)

Isabel says certain stocks are now running dangerously low: “A month ago now, beef and dairy farmers were having to feed their cattle extra food in order to keep them in good condition/producing milk. These feed stocks should have been conserved for feeding animals during the coming winter and stocks are already low given the late spring. Autumn sown crops of cereals and oilseeds, dependent on rain to swell the grain/seed, had not filled out to their full potential.

“Worst affected have been spring sown crops that have struggled to get established on the lighter, free draining soils, also special seed plots sown on farms to help wildlife have also struggled. There may be a shortage of straw and fodder crops on the lighter land (crops grown as animal feed) may not be as good as usual.

Isobel says it may also hit us financially: “Any shortages of particular commodities will push up farmers’ costs and it may be tricky for them to recoup these. Growers of fruit, salads and fresh produce and ornamental plants may have resorted to using mains water, rather than relying on water from boreholes, so this will push up their costs.

It is difficult to say, at this stage, what this means for the supply chain, but it is very worrying for affected farmers. There may be little or no impact on the shopper as many commodities are traded in a global market place and also retailers will wish to cushion their customers from any potential price increases.”