Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 24°C

min temp: 14°C

Search

Suffolk: Farmers fear for future as emergency aid soars 53% - but employment figures rise

16:11 02 April 2013

Farmers are fearing for their future following a fresh outbreak of disease, the wettest summer in 100 years and a prolonged wintry spell.

Farmers are fearing for their future following a fresh outbreak of disease, the wettest summer in 100 years and a prolonged wintry spell.

THE WETTEST summer in 100 years, a fresh outbreak of disease, escalating animal feed costs and an arctic winter delaying spring has led to a 53% increase in the amount of emergency financial aid being given out to Suffolk farmers.

But new figures show the number of employed farmers, labelled “resilient” and “used to the British weather” by union chiefs, is increasing across the county.

Full-time farmers climbed from 1,885 to 1,900 between 2009 and 2011 – the latest figures available under freedom of information laws – while part-time numbers shot up from 2,071 to 2,259.

Total labour also jumped from 8,132 to 8,541.

Yet some farmers are casting doubt over their future.

Emergency grants given to Suffolk farmers was £91,800 last year, up from £60,100 in 2010 – a 53% climb – The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) said.

On a national scale, £100,000 was given out in January this year by the RABI – compared to £30,000 in January 2012.

Gordon Davies-Morris, 74, has farmed all his life. He tends to more than 250 ewes in his 30-acre site at Holbrook Gardens, Holbrook.

But he lost around 100 lambs last year. Each one markets at £70-100, but he blamed the Schmallenberg virus blowing up the River Orwell for costing him thousands of pounds.

Spread by insects, the disease leads to malformed newborns in pregnant ewes and cattle, and reduces milk production from cows.

“The disease didn’t show up until too late,” Mr Davies-Morris said. “It’s been tough. We were hoping for an early spring but I am picking dead lambs out of the snow.”

In 2006, barley cost £70 a tonne. Today it is £225. Wheat has doubled to £215 a tonne, soya has shot up from £250 to £450 while peas and beans are also surging in cost.

“Rising food prices are very damaging,” Mr Davies-Morris said. “Corn nuts are now £300 a tonne. I would say it’s 50/50 whether I’ll survive at the end of next year. A lot of farmers are saying the same thing.”

Government figures for 2012/13 revealed a steep fall of 44% in average incomes for beef and sheep lowland producers in England.

The country had its wettest year on record in 2012, leading to high disease levels in arable crops and driving down wheat yields to a 23-year low.

Brian Finnerty, spokesman for NFU East Anglia, said it was testing times for farmers.

“The land is less arable and farmers can’t plant their crops. They are saying they haven’t seen fields as bare as this for a long time,” he said.

“It is causing higher food costs, which affects the quality of animal feed which can lead to milk yield reductions.

“It is frustrating but our farmers are resilient. They are used to dealing with the British weather.

“It is good seeing the numbers of farmers going up and I see bright prospects ahead.”

2 comments

  • Here we go again, this time ast year it was drought they moaned about, now it's too much wet...

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

  • Farmers are the most spoiled businessmen in the country; huge subsidies and payouts for everything. I think this is part due to the Royal Family and chums of Cameron being major farmers. They look after their own. But, as your article confirms, there have been massive price increases in many crops (also in land values) and I ask why have the excess profits now being made by many farmers not led to cutting EU subsidies to them and for a 'windfall tax' on the profitable farmers to help the poorer farmers? Is it because the wealthy ones want to keep their subsidies and excess profits, whilst continuing to bleat about 'hard times' and knowing they have full support of Dave and Co. The people of the UK are having a hard time, so why should farmers be an exception?

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Norwich Crown Court

A former instructor for the Army Cadet Force has been jailed for sexually assaulting a teenage cadet on a training camp.

An East of England Ambulance Trust ambulance. Photograph Simon Parker

A car has overturned on Woodbridge Road close to Barclays Bank in Ipswich.

The new Aldi in Donald Mackintosh Way, Ipswich.

Ipswich’s third Aldi supermarket is to open its doors tomorrow at Pinewood on the southern edge of the town.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court

Two young men terrified a teenage girl after donning balaclavas and arming themselves with a hammer and rounders bat when taking the law into their own hands.

The Very Revd Martin Thrower

A senior Suffolk clergyman has been suspended by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich after being arrested by police on suspicion of voyeurism.

A photograph of a recovered Samurai Sword after an incident in Ipswich on August 30, 2016. Pic: Ali Livingstone / Suffolk Constabulary.

A man has been arrested and a samurai sword has been recovered after an incident in Ipswich this morning.

Ricky Mutton

Police were able to clear up 13 burglaries after an Ipswich man wrote a letter from prison saying he wanted to “wipe the slate clean”, a court has heard.

The Flatford terrapin - now named John!

When Ipswich teenager Curtis Jay went on the hunt for Pokemon Go characters in Flatford he accidentally stumbled upon a very different creature.

Suffolk and Norfolk police assistant chief constable Sarah Hamlin.

The assistant chief constable for Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies has announced her retirement in a series of Twitter posts which appear to criticise the police forces.

Stowmarket chicken shed fire (Photo: Denise Bates)

A chicken shed blaze in Stowmarket has been tackled by firefighters.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24