Farmers across the UK could be facing "a perfect storm" is the coming months, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).
The organisation explained that a combination of low cereal yields and high feed costs could present a significant challenge to the sector. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, reported by Foodmanufactutre.co.uk, NFU boss Peter Kendall explained that the nation is close to becoming a net importer of wheat for the first time in 11 years this year due to the extended winter weather that has plagued the British spring time. The summer of 2012 was also highlighted as being one of the wettest on record and affected the performance of farms across the country.
Unsettled and unseasonal weather conditions in the past year have caused the average yield drop from 7.8t/ha to 6.7t/ha over the last 12 months. Wheat plantings have also fallen by a quarter during the same period prompting fears that the UK will now look to different countries in order to import the products. Mr Kendall has now called on the government to help support farming businesses and help to attract more commerce and raw materials for food manufacturers.
"We produce the raw material for the biggest manufacturing sector in the economy so we do need to make sure that as farmers we knuckle down, we want support from the government – not financially – but to help us make investments to become more resilient because 3.6 million jobs depend on the food sector in the UK," Mr Kendall added.
The recent poor weather had sparked concern among UK farmers with Rich Clothier, managing director of Wyke Farms, explaining to The Grocer that the dairy sector has had to adapt significantly due to the poor conditions.
He noted that the milk supply in the country was "on a knife's edge" as the cost of feed was increasing and it meant that companies could fail to capitalise on the horsemeat scandal which has seen more and more people invest in local produce.