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British Farmers Face Bleak Harvest as Brexit and Record Rains Bite

A toxic mix of Brexit fallout and the wettest UK weather in nearly two centuries threatens to drastically reduce British food production this year, pushing inflation even higher, the industry warns.

According to the National Farmers Union's (NFU) annual survey, a record two-thirds of farmers expect plummeting profits or outright bankruptcy within the next 12 months, caught in an unprecedented "perfect storm".

All farming sectors are bracing to scale back production over the next year. Arable farmers, devastated by relentless wet weather that saturated fields and prevented planting, face the most significant cuts.

However, the UK food industry can't simply rely on imports from the Continent to fill the gaps, warns NFU president Tom Bradshaw, as severe drought and storms have hammered European farmers as well.

Bradshaw paints a dire picture, calling it the grimmest outlook for farmers in England and Wales in the 14 years the NFU has conducted the survey, leaving the UK teetering on the edge of a food security crisis.

The factors blamed include the war in Ukraine driving up fuel and fertiliser costs, the wettest 18 months in Britain since 1836, and the phasing out of the EU's basic payment subsidy scheme for farmers post-Brexit.

"These figures paint a really stark picture. Confidence has collapsed after months of devastating flooding, unsustainably high production costs and low market returns, and against a backdrop of reduced farm support as we transition to a new domestic agriculture policy and associated farm support,” Bradshaw said.

When asked if this industry-wide production drop would fuel UK inflation, Bradshaw replied: "What this is going to do is mean we are more reliant on global imports. And so that global commodity market is going to be a big driver now of UK prices over the coming months.”

The survey reveals 82% of farmers have been hit hard by the relentless rain, while the loss of the BPS [basic payment subsidy] is set to hurt 86% of farm businesses. Skyrocketing fuel, fertiliser and energy costs will hammer 80% of farmers, and labour shortages will damage 50%.

A staggering 49% of farmers predict dwindling profits over the next year, with 16% warning their businesses might not survive – the highest level ever recorded. Overall, 65% of farmers anticipate either decline or bankruptcy.

The survey data was collected in November and December 2023, but the NFU warns the situation has likely worsened since then, with even more heavy rain since January.

Source: iNews

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