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Wet winter leaves south Lincolnshire farmers in ‘short-term crisis’

A farmer has warned that cropping intentions for 2024 have ‘plummeted’ following wet winter — as the Government announces plans to boost food production.

Mark Meadows, NFU regional board deputy chair who represents growers in the Spalding area, says said the emotional and financial impact on farming families over a wet winter and spring could not be underestimated.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently announced a number of measures - including a blueprint to boost UK fruit and vegetable production - at Farm to Fork Summit which was held after a recent NFU survey revealed a crisis of confidence among farmers and growers.

The Government - which has left many farming families poorer due to delays to post Brexit subsidies and agreed to trade deals which will bring in cheap imports from countries with lower agricultural standards than the UK - is also promising a £75 million support internal drainage boards with recovery and modernisation.

South Holland District Council is still waiting to find out its share of £3milllion support promised by the Government in January to help with the costs of IDBs.

Mr Meadows said: “Many face a serious short-term crisis and production intentions have plummeted with all sectors expecting to decrease production over the next year.

“There are serious challenges facing our county farms, certainly in terms of cropping and Harvest 2024 but issues across the board, and it was important for NFU President Tom Bradshaw to discuss this with Rishi Sunak.

“With a General Election on the horizon, it has never been more important to have our farmers’ voices heard and the NFU will continue to look for ways to secure a more resilient and sustainable future for county farming families.

“The NFU is talking to ministers and offering them solutions that we think will work and we hope that the door remains open.”

The Government announcement includes a new blueprint to increase domestic production in the UK horticulture sector; the publication of the Food Security Index setting out key data and trends; further support for farmers and growers affected by wet weather.

This has been welcomed by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which launched the UK Food Valley.

Ruth Carver, Chief Executive of Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “We welcome the recognition by Government that the fresh produce sector can grow sustainably to replace imports, something our LEP has campaigned strongly on. In our 2021 investment prospectus for this sector, we argued that Greater Lincolnshire is the UK's Food Valley, the location of choice for fresh produce and controlled environment agriculture businesses investing to meet growing market demand, while pursuing transformational improvements in efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

"Since 2021, we have continued to see rapid investment in our fresh produce sector, and we have recently supported the University of Lincoln to develop a new R&D glasshouse at their Riseholme Campus to champion the development of energy and labour efficiency in this sector. We have also commissioned research on how to modernise the cool chain which is integral to the fresh produce sector.

"We look forward to working with Government and all our partners in industry to deliver on the clear growth opportunities in the fresh produce sector.”


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