Farmers in Crisis
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates current total income for hill grazing livestock farmers is a mere £14,000 – down 53% on last year. Pig farming income is down 51% and dairy 44%.
Lamb and sheep losses in the recent heavy snow coupled with rises in feed prices means that hill farmers will be badly hit, and incomes for the coming year are likely to be even lower. Feed wheat prices are already 28% up on last year, whilst lamb prices are only up around 10%.
Britain’s farmers have one of the highest suicide rates of any employment group, and the current stresses are likely to drive the rate higher. Hill farmers are particularly isolated and under stress.
The current long range weather forecast indicates cold weather for the rest of April which will further affect crops and livestock.
There are some practical things we can do:
1. Buy British. Vegetables and Fruit are all labelled with country of origin, so this is easy. However processed meats, such as sausages and bacon, may be made in Britain from meat sourced anywhere in the world. Look out for product made from free range or outdoor reared UK animals. Cheese is always labelled with country of origin and a wide range of British cheese is available including brie and mozzarella!
2. Write to David Heath MP Minister of State for Agriculture and Food and ask him what he is doing to help those farmers with sharply falling incomes – particularly hill farmers. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Support Charities specifically supporting farmers in need – Farming Community Network is a Christian charity with volunteers providing pastoral and practical help to farmers in need http://www.fcn.org.uk. The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution also helps farmers in financial difficulty http://www.rabi.org.uk. The Princes Countyside Fund gives grants to farmers in need http://www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/.
30 March 2013