Farmers run dry as fuel crisis bites

12 September 2000

Farmers run dry as fuel crisis bites

by Fwi staff

ARABLE growers, livestock producers and dairy farmers across the country have run out of fuel after protests against high prices stopped delivery of supplies.

Farm contractors and other agricultural companies have also been forced to rearrange their workloads because fuel shortages have left them unable to operate.

In Suffolk, arable grower Ken Rush said his drivers had failed to find supplies of fuel to transport sugar beet for processing at British Sugars Ipswich factory.

“Although the Ipswich factory is due to open next week, there is absolutely no way we can start lifting beet until the crisis is resolved,” he told Farmers Weekly.

Cambgrain, a farmer-owned Cambridgeshire grain co-operative, said several of its members had also failed to find enough fuel to run their grain driers.

Philip Dark, the companys manager, said: “Heaps of damp grain are now piling up with no prospect of being dried immediately.”

In Lancashire, one desperate poultry producer said he would struggle to feed his laying hens after a haulier ran out of fuel and could not collect the birds.

The RSPCA has written to the Ministry of Agriculture expressing concern about animals in transit delayed by blockages and shortages of feed deliveries.

John Avizenius, an RSCPA senior scientific officer, said: “Weve discussed concerns with MAFF over how the fuel shortage may seriously affect animals.”

In the south-east, the National Farmers Union said at least one worried farmer was told his milk could not be collected after Tuesday (12 September).

In Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway remained hard hit by fuel shortages. But the Scottish National Farmers Union said it was supporting the demonstrations.

In Edinburgh, farmers and truckers joined up to drive a slow convoy along Princes Street before rallying at the Ingliston show ground outside the city.

In Wales, however, organisers of the worlds largest ram sale at Builth Wells, due to take place next week, said they were considering cancelling the event.

Jane Smith, ram sale secretary, said owners of 9,000 rams due for sale had been sent a card and asked whether they would be able to attend the sale.

“A decision will be made to go ahead with the sale or postpone it,” she said.

What do you think? The fuel protests were started by farmers angry at high prices. But now many producers are suffering as a result. Should the protests continue? Click here to have your say. Responses will be published on FWi.

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