Farmers battle with the British weather
2012 was England’s wettest year on record, and the UK’s second wettest, and yet it began with one of the worst droughts for decades. As if this had not given farmers enough difficulty, 2013 has so far been cold and with snow falls in many parts of the country – some of them extremely heavy – in every month since last December.
Justin Albert, director of National Trust Wales, reported that, ‘The snow has claimed huge numbers of sheep and lambs already, but the record rainfall we had last year and the prolonged cold this winter has also had its effect, reducing grazing and hitting flocks across Wales hard.’ (1) The National Sheep Association has warned of serious lamb losses following the freak March blizzards and strong winds. Farmers were struggling to reach and feed their livestock as the wintry blast eased slightly on Wednesday 27 March. (2)
On the same day it was reported that thousands of sheep were still missing on the Isle of Man, where there were snow drifts of up to 25 feet in places.
The Met Office has warned farmers that the cold spell is likely to last another fortnight – into the middle of April – with only a slow, gradual thaw.
In a statement from the National Farmers’ Union, Vice President Adam Quinney said, ‘These are unusual conditions and… it has put an extraordinary strain on the industry after what has been a torrid 12 months of extreme weather, compounded by the fact that many farmers’ sheep are lambing at the moment.’ (3)
While there are a number of charities able to offer financial assistance to farmers, some of whom face catastrophic losses, consumers can do their bit to help by buying British produce as often as possible. As members of CEL, if you have a local farm shop or a farmers’ market near you, then do support your local producers as much as you can. We should remember British farmers in our prayers at this difficult time; the tragedy of their situation was brought home to me quite forcefully on the television news the other evening as a lady on an affected sheep farm described, through her tears, the loss of their animals under the snow and the desperate effort to find as many as possible before they all perished.
30 March 2013