A new snapshot NFU member poll has revealed this yearâ€™s wheat harvest is likely to be smaller than last year, while short-term confidence among arable farmers is at a new low.
The poll reveals the overall harvested area on the farms in the poll is on course to be almost 30 per cent lower than in 2012, following on from HGCA figures showing winter wheat planting area was 25 per cent down. It comes following a year of unprecedented extreme weather which has battered crops, underlining the importance of farmers access to crop protection technology, and for the governmentâ€™s implementation of CAP not to disadvantage English farmers.
In a separate NFU survey nearly half of arable farmers interviewed (45 per cent) were less confident about the prospects facing their farm business in the next 12 months compared to last year.
NFU combinable crops chairman Andrew Watts said: â€œA myriad of factors have hit arable farms this year, from the extreme weather through to news that there will be restrictions on neonicotinoids to come in the future. Our poll is a snapshot but it is extremely worrying that planted area remaining viable for 2013 harvest on those farms looks set to be 29 per cent smaller than last year. If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row.
â€œThe saving grace in past years has been crop protection technology, which can help maintain yield potential and all important grain quality by guarding against pests and ensure crops are more drought and flood resistant. However, with the march by lobbying organisations to force restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids and potential restrictions on triazoles, it is hardly surprising to see that short-term confidence is so low.
â€œIf the experts are to be believed and extreme weather is to become more frequent over the coming years, we must look at ways of supporting the industry. Crop protection technology must be embraced to help safeguard our harvests in years to come. After lower volume and quality from the 2012 crop put pressure on cashflow and profitability, the signals we are getting indicate these difficulties will continue after 2013. We urge the UK Government to support English farmers with its implementation of the CAP reform, which must not put us at a disadvantage compared to other EU farmers.â€