Harvest write-off after floods?…

07 August 1997

Harvest "write-off" after floods?…

By Boyd Champness

FLOODS throughout the south of England and Wales could not have come at a worse time for farmers, with feed grain prices at a 20-year low, according to the National Farmers Union.

NFU cereal delegate for Wales Meurig Raymond said it was too early to put a financial estimate on the damage done to crops, but said this years harvest could easily be a “write off” if the region doesnt receive warm weather over the next week.

Mr Raymond said all the potatoes are out of the ground, but the winter barley harvest was only 50% complete, the oilseed rape harvest 10-15% complete, and the winter wheat harvest yet to get under way.

Mr Raymond said he feared that much of the malting barley and wheat will be downgraded to feed if the weather doesnt warm up, and that the additional cost of drying grain during a year when prices are poor will only make matters worse.

Feed wheat and barley prices are currently about £70 per tonne, compared to £97/t last year, with oilseed rape prices at £130/t compared to £190/t last year. Little malting barley has been sold to date, but maltsters are suggesting that prices could be as low as £80-£95/t compared to £130/t a year ago. The strength of Sterling is playing a big part in keeping prices down.

“The floods have come in a year when the industry is taking a lot of knocks. There was a lot of anger, concern and depression in the industry long before the heavy rains started. Now the rain has only compounded these problems,” said Mr Raymond.

The NFU has asked the UK Government to seek green pound compensation from Brussels for UK farmers who have suffered through green currency movements.

A number of other EU member states have successfully requested and received currency compensation from the EU in the past, but the NFU claims that the Government is reluctant to ask because it involves contributing money from its own coffers.

“I believe the Government should be applying to Brussels for this money. The industry desperately needs it now more than ever before,” Mr Raymond said.

The NFU has asked the Government to apply to Brussels for £700 million in compensation, but Mr Raymond said strong Sterling had effectively wiped about £1 billion from farmers pockets.

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