Summit to discuss dry spring difficulties

Farmers, retailers and ministers will meet for talks this week (Friday, 10 June) to discuss the problems caused by the ongoing drought.

Rain has fallen in some areas over the weekend, but the record-breaking dry spell this spring has left some farmers in a desperate position.

Up to 85% of the UK’s cereal crops have been affected, with around 20% of winter wheat and barley crops severely hit.

Livestock farmers in some regions are also struggling with a shortage of grass and there are reports that some producers are selling stock in order to ease their problems.

NFU water policy adviser Jenny Bashford said: “As we know, the weather over the first half of the year has been particularly concerning.

“Such little rainfall has put a serious strain on parts of the British farming industry. This meeting will provide the key players involved with the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand.

“We hope that it will provide a platform towards developing a coherent approach that looks at water as a vital, finite asset to be well managed, rather than a problem to be dealt with only under difficult circumstances.”   

Met Office figures show East Anglia was the driest district in the UK between 1 March and 31 May with just 28.1 mm of rain, only 21% of the long-term average.

The lack of rain in East Anglia made it the driest for 101 years, beating the previous record of 51.9 mm in 1996.

South East and central southern England had 49.4 mm of rain, only 30% of the long-term average- making it the driest spring on record for 101 years, beating the previous record of 57.3 mm in 1976.

However, in contrast, parts of north and west Scotland have had a wet season, with Argyllshire recording 577.6 mm of rain, well above the long-term average of 422 mm.

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