Price hikes and food shortages

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No Caption ABCDE EMN-191125-094856001 EMN-191125-094856001

Consumers have been warned of a potential hike in food prices and possible shortages as the county’s farmers count the cost of crippling floods.

Thousands of acres of fertile farmland have been left under water following one of the wettest October and Novembers on record.

With farmers still struggling to get onto waterlogged fields, there are fears staple vegetables like potatoes, sprouts, broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers could be in short supply for already hard-up families at Christmas.

There are warnings of a shortage of wheat and barley this time next year, with farmers unlikely to be able to do anything on their land until February.

Andrew Ward, who farms near Leadenham, is a Farming Champion and founder of Forage Aid which has provided weather-hit livestock farmers with feed and bedding.

He told The Guardian last week his 600-hectare (1,500 acre) arable farm was waterlogged while his godson’s 120ha farm was under two metres of water. He said: “I haven’t got any winter wheat in the ground, when normally it would all be planted. I think across the country 30 per cent to 40 per cent of winter wheat is planted when it should nearly all be planted by now.”

Andrew Wilson, an agent with NFU Mutual, believes it is inevitable prices will rise adding that farmers in Europe, Australia and America are suffering their own ‘climate’ issues.

Mr Wilson revealed Brexit was another worrying factor with every chance imports from Europe will face an added tariff of up to 40 per cent.

While Mr Wilson sympathised with consumers, he warned farming has one of the highest suicide levels of any industry in the country.

Mr Wilson said many farmers were already struggling financially, before the floods.

He explained most farmers had incurred ‘substantial costs’ planting, fertilising and reducing crops which had been ruined.

He said: “The mental health of a lot of farmers is a big concern.

“They are going to be worrying how they are going to pay their bills.”

Mr Wilson said there were particular concerns about this year’s potato crop, with Lincolnshire one of the biggest areas of production in the UK.

He confirmed some farmers reported their crops had been ‘decimated’ while others admitted potatoes were ‘left rotting in waterlogged ground.’

It is understood, flooding could also have badly affected sugar beet and oilseed rape crops. The cost of animal feed has also increased, sparking a likely rise in meat prices.

Mr Wilson added: “It could take the industry years to recover.”