EU cereal production is set to drop by 1.4% in 2012, despite an increase in the growing area.
Although cereal plantings are around 1% higher than last year, with a sowing area of 56.28m ha compared to 55.73m ha, yields are expected to decline due to poor weather.
The figures were released by the European farmers’ organisation COPA-COGECA in its report, EU-27 cereals estimates for the 2012/13 marketing year.
NFU member Ian Backhouse, chairman of the COPA cereals working group, said farmers were forced to re-sow over 1.5m ha due to severe drought and frost kill “but were restricted by a lack of commercialised seed”.
“Farmers should not be restricted in their choices under the new CAP post-2013 to enable them to respond to market signals and variable weather conditions.”
Ian Blackhouse, NFU
“Severe drought hit Spain and Portugal this year while ample frost-kill forced farmers to re-sow over 1.5 million hectares,” said Mr Backhouse. “Farmers were able to mitigate these crop losses by being able to switch to alternative spring cropping.
“However, their ability to switch crops to respond to market demands was restricted by a lack of commercial seeds and had it not been for their ability to use their own farm saved seed they would not have been able to sow as much as they have.”
The EU population is expected to rise from 502 million to 525 million by 2035, meaning many more mouths to feed. By 2060, the UK is predicted to have the largest population in the EU, around 79 million inhabitants.
Mr Backhouse warned the EU Commission not to make matters worse by restricting production through the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
“Farmers should not be restricted in their choices under the new CAP post-2013 to enable them to respond to market signals and variable weather conditions,” he said.
“The commission’s new measures to further green the CAP must not restrict this flexibility, especially the measure on crop diversification which forces farmers to grow a minimum of three crops.”