Three Yorkshire fruit and vegetable growers face losses in excess of £1.2m, while some of the county’s salad growers are close to losing £1m as they count the cost of extreme weather conditions and rocketing overheads.
Yields from the county’s 143,000ha (600,000 acres) of wheat grown this year are expected to be at least 10 per cent down because of dry weather costing growers over £35m.
Speaking at the Great Yorkshire show NFU county chairman for Yorkshire West Riding, Guy Poskitt, said agricultural land accounted for 70% of the region and produced more than £1.7bn a year.
His own business was facing a 50% rise in fertiliser costs, 20% rise in fuel costs and a 15% rise in packaging.
“Food is a world commodity and we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market, but those we supply have to be realistic about the problems we face.
“Unpredictable weather and volatile commodity markets, as well as occupying a vulnerable position in the supply chain, have hit fruit, vegetable and arable growers very hard.
“The UK is increasingly less able to feed itself. In the fruit and vegetable sector, our self-sufficiency in indigenous vegetables has fallen from 73 to 60% over the last ten years and yet DEFRA’s Fruit and Vegetables Task Force has highlighted the importance of domestic production on the grounds of cost, availability and quality.
“We need a coordinated plan to ensure that supermarket prices are kept reasonable and that farmers can deliver in the long term. This plan should look at how we can manage limited water resources in dry years, ensure the flood risk is alleviated in wet years and how we can invest in the development of new plant varieties.
“We must also improve supply chain relationships to ensure one link is not unduly penalised in the event of unforeseen circumstances.”