Struggling farmers have been abandoned by the Government Jamie Blackett

Struggling farmers have been abandoned by the Government

  • Jamie Blackett

  • Jamie-small.png
13 April 2020 • 8:00pm





Falling prices, collapsing supply chains and the evisceration of rural tourism combined with ministerial blunders have left the agricultural sector facing ruin
The effect of the pandemic on our food supply chains is really starting to bite, with farmers suffering most. Social media is full of heartbreaking stories of every dairy farmer’s worst nightmare – milk being poured away because tankers are no longer picking it up. On beef farms cattle are waiting in a backlog for slaughter, the abattoirs and processors having been hit, first by the exodus of foreign workers prior to the lockdown, and now by staff shortages caused by illness and the need to maintain social distancing.
Worst affected are the trout farmers as supermarkets have dropped selling trout portions to simplify their operations, and fishing lakes are shut (perhaps unnecessarily) so aren’t restocking. Millions of trout may have to be euthanised and tipped into landfill as their ponds become overstocked.
Meanwhile, queues outside supermarkets show that there is no let-up in demand. It is estimated that in normal times 20 per cent of food is consumed outside the home. The closure of restaurants and cafes has been a challenge for the supermarkets – but also a golden opportunity. Special offers have been withdrawn, and prices have been nudged up.
You would think that farmers might at least receive more for their produce, given the constrictions on supply, but in fact the reverse has happened. Beef farmers are bracing themselves for another 10p per kilo drop in the price later this week. Milk is around 70p per litre in the shops while the spot price being offered to farmers has fallen to as low as 15p in some parts of the country. The farmer share of the meat retail price was already at an all-time low before the pandemic; it has only fallen lower since.
The closure of the catering sector has undoubtedly had a knock-on effect. The more expensive cuts of meat normally served in restaurants are apparently not being bought to eat at home. The milk that is normally sold in bags to catering establishments is now being wasted through an inability of the dairy processors to switch it into bottles or cartons.
It was entirely predictable that the supply chain would be affected in this way but the Government has persevered in a laissez-faire approach epitomised by the decision to leave it up to supermarkets to ensure we have enough food and to decide whether to ration certain goods.
For their part, Sainsbury’s and Asda arranged for the import of cheap beef from Poland where welfare standards are often lower. The supermarkets refute the allegation, but as far as British farmers are concerned, opting for cheap imports at a time when many face serious financial struggles looks like profiteering.

DEFRA Secretary George Eustice was recently shamed into putting out a statement thanking British farmers but the fact remains that livestock farmers are now losing money through his department’s failure to plan for issues in the supply chain preventing the flow of British food from field to fork. His department has been too slow to re-allocate labour or even request military assistance to drive milk tankers and backfill food production workers.
Poor prices, and in some cases the inability of farms to sell produce at all, combined with the complete shutdown of rural tourism, have led to serious cashflow problems on British farms. In the short term the Chancellor’s rescue package for business needs rural-proofing urgently as currently farms do not really benefit. You cannot furlough farm workers as animals still need to be fed and
and milked, and farms are already exempt from business rates so do not benefit from a rates holiday.

A temporary market intervention and price support mechanisms need to be implemented now. In the longer term we need a coherent food strategy that addresses these failures and protects primary producers from power inequalities in the supply chain. It has long been a bone of contention that the Groceries Adjudicator only has influence on the last link in the supply chain. That needs to change.


There are farmers endangering their health by carrying on working with the virus. Many may now lose their livelihoods. The Government needs to address its food blind spot urgently.





A temporary market intervention and price support mechanisms need to be implemented now. In the longer term we need a coherent food strategy that addresses these failures and protects primary producers from power inequalities in the supply chain. It has long been a bone of contention that the Groceries Adjudicator only has influence on the last link in the supply chain. That needs to change.

There are farmers endangering their health by carrying on working with the virus. Many may now lose their livelihoods. The Government needs to address its food blind spot urgently.
 
Get over yourselves. There is about the same number of self employed people who will fall through the income support net and are in really big trouble, as there are farmers in the UK who, let's not forget, are still in buissiness and generally still trading albeit at lower prices.
Government intervention into markets is not to be taken lightly, and really is a last resort when markets are proven to be dysfunction.
The current situation is crap, but we are only a short while into market upset, far to soon for the heavy artillery of forced intervention and all the lasting problems that would bring.
 

Swarfmonkey

Member
Location
Hampshire
While great swathes of my friends as furloughed on 80 percent pay for doing sod all. Wonder who will be taxed to pay for it? Not public sector workers. Will be us, no doubt.

The longer it goes on, the worse it's going to get. I'm not just talking about who'll pay for it but the anger that's building up. My ugly lot are still at work, whilst others are getting paid to sit on their backsides all day doing sod all. Consequently I have a lot of p!ssed off staff.

One of my engineering technicians told me that he'd be better off financially if he was furloughed, as 80% pay but not having to pay childcare and £300 a month in petrol would put him in a better financial position overall than 100% pay and having to cough up for childcare and petrol.
 

Widgetone

Member
Trade
Location
Westish Suffolk
The longer it goes on, the worse it's going to get. I'm not just talking about who'll pay for it but the anger that's building up. My ugly lot are still at work, whilst others are getting paid to sit on their backsides all day doing sod all. Consequently I have a lot of p!ssed off staff.

One of my engineering technicians told me that he'd be better off financially if he was furloughed, as 80% pay but not having to pay childcare and £300 a month in petrol would put him in a better financial position overall than 100% pay and having to cough up for childcare and petrol.
Is your business lucky enough to be flat out busy then? If not, why not grant him his wish?
I know more people that would rather be at work than furloughed, the novelty has quickly worn off!
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
the super markets are the main suppliers, and distribution of food, at the moment, and guv is singing their praise, and, quite rightly so, through their greed, and manipulation of markets, their exploitations of workers, throughout the world, and their desire to control the whole food section, in the UK, the guv has no other choice, but I do hope, that after this, food will increase in importance in the guvs planning. It's always been said, it needs a war to get farming going again, well we are now, no bombs or bullets, just a sinister, invisible, and lethal, virus circulating, and it's not short term, and at the moment, we are on the losing side.
 
I’m currently almost finished lambing and I’m sat looking a all the lambs thinking hummm I wonder how much il be getting per head all
My costs were fixed from pre corona and I dare say I’ll get a hounding come August . Possibly No restaurant open no exports and a country that can’t cook anything more than pasta by the sounds of it. Our lambing student told us her home economics lesson at school were sparse and she removers one where the teacher taught them how to make a cheese sandwich. I’d love to see what the most popular item that supermarkets are selling apart from toilet roll.
 

bobk

Member
Location
stafford
The longer it goes on, the worse it's going to get. I'm not just talking about who'll pay for it but the anger that's building up. My ugly lot are still at work, whilst others are getting paid to sit on their backsides all day doing sod all. Consequently I have a lot of p!ssed off staff.

One of my engineering technicians told me that he'd be better off financially if he was furloughed, as 80% pay but not having to pay childcare and £300 a month in petrol would put him in a better financial position overall than 100% pay and having to cough up for childcare and petrol.
A lot of these furloughed staff will be sacked , mark my words .
 

pgk

Member
A lot of these furloughed staff will be sacked , mark my words .
I fear you are right, friend told me of a local engineering company who has signed up for the 80% to give his 40 staff 3 more months of pay before he closes the business, his 3 main customers having told him that is what they will do, very sad and devastating for the staff.
 

fudge

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lincolnshire.
Get over yourselves. There is about the same number of self employed people who will fall through the income support net and are in really big trouble, as there are farmers in the UK who, let's not forget, are still in buissiness and generally still trading albeit at lower prices.
Government intervention into markets is not to be taken lightly, and really is a last resort when markets are proven to be dysfunction.
The current situation is crap, but we are only a short while into market upset, far to soon for the heavy artillery of forced intervention and all the lasting problems that would bring.
The USA are handing their farmers $15billion to compensate for Covid19 market interruption. Should they be granted open access to the UK market in the coming rearrangement of trade rules given their propensity to sully the purity of the hallowed market? Or should the UK government back local food for local people?
 

yin ewe

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Co Antrim
A lot of these furloughed staff will be sacked , mark my words .

A lot of businesses are furloughing staff who they aren't wanting back. I don't know the ins and outs of it, but was told that employers have no obligation to take workers back after furlough ends. Some people think that it's handy money for lying at home, might be a different story if they end up on job seekers in 3 months time.
 

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Five nature-recovery projects spanning 100,000ha launched

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Written by Michelle Martin from Agriland

Image-source-Savills-field-640x360.jpg
Five nature-recovery projects spanning nearly 100,000ha across the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset have been announced by the government and Natural England today (Thursday, May 26).

This is the equivalent in size to all 219 current National Reserves.

The aim of the projects is to deliver nature recovery at a landscape scale, helping to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and improve public health and well-being.

All five projects will make a significant contribution towards the national delivery of the international commitment to protect at least 30% of land and...
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