Britain could be facing a potato shortage after failure to dredge rivers led to flooding, the leader of the National Farmers' Union has said, adding that water has been managed in a "disgraceful" way.
Image source: Bloomberg
Up to 50 per cent of this year's crop is rotting in the ground because farmers have been unable to harvest, Minnette Batters the NFU president said, adding that she had "never seen so little winter planting in [her] working lifetime".
The UK is entirely self-sufficient in fresh potatoes, so a shortage could cause cost rises and a lack of the vegetable in supermarkets. There will also likely be a shortage of seed for spring planting, meaning issues could continue into next year.
Brussels sprouts and maize could also be affected, Ms Batters added, but said farmers "will be doing everything possible to make sure there are no shortages of sprouts for Christmas, there are no shortages of potatoes."
However, she pointed out that the Environment Agency needs to work with farmers to ensure rivers are dredged and water can move across the country.
She explained: "We have got to see radical change in how we make space for water...we manage it in the most disgraceful way and we need to fix the system for food, for farmers and for people.
“We need the Environment Agency to work with us and make sure water can travel.
“In many parts of the UK we have too much water and many we have far too little”.
The leader added that she had been working with farmers in Norfolk who have not had enough water for their plants.
To avoid flooding causing crop shortages in future, she added that the next government needs to "make space for water", including widening the rivers and making sure they are maintained properly.
Ms Batters explained: “We have got to have political ambition to treat water responsibly.
“We saw a massive dredging failure in Somerset. We need to be dredging, this could have been avoided if the government managed rivers properly. Our rivers are silted up and badly maintained, which has contributed to much of the flooding.
“Also we should be looking at paying farmers in wet areas to store water for summer so those who face droughts have a supply.”
She also called for a wider roll-out of the flood recovery fund to all farming businesses who have been hit by flooding.
Source: The Telegraph