FARMING MATTERS: Calls for government to support arable farmers

A mixed harvest demonstrates the need for government to drive arable productivity and efficiency through a new domestic agricultural policy.

This is the message from the National Farmers Union after its annual Harvest Survey revealed varied results for Britain’s arable farmers.

NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly said that the findings lay bare the importance of access to all the tools available, including plant protection products.

These are the treatments used to keep crops healthy by protecting them against pests and diseases. Also known as pesticides, PPPs are to plants the equivalent of medicines for humans.

The NFU survey shows that, overall, crop yields are estimated to have increased to eight tonnes per hectare, rising above the five year average of 7.9 tonnes.

However, while some farmers saw increases, many farmers witnessed crop yields decrease after unpredictable weather severely impacted the harvest.

Mr Hambly said: “While it is good news that we are seeing overall yields increase, many farmers are still struggling with unpredictable weather, rising input prices and restricted access to plant protection products.

“Even now, many have still yet to complete this year’s harvest.

“It is vital we build on increasing yields and in order to do this farmers’ need to have all the tools available to protect their crops and invest in new technology.

“A new domestic agricultural policy must enable farm businesses to be profitable and productive, while easing the impact of volatility to ensure Britain’s arable farmers can continue to provide food for the nation and deliver for the environment.

“Plant protection products are clearly top of that list and with the futures of both neonicotinoids and glyphosate currently at a critical juncture, the NFU is calling on government to support their availability to farmers.”

This column appears online on Saturday morning.