Rain costs farmers dear

SUFFOLK'S shortage of summer sun is costing farmers thousands of pounds in lost crop revenues and is threatening their livelihoods, it was claimed today.

SUFFOLK'S shortage of summer sun is costing farmers thousands of pounds in lost crop revenues and is threatening their livelihoods, it was claimed today.

The poor harvest caused by the wet weather of the past two months has left many struggling to survive, with acres of fields ruined by rain.

Jill Girling, of the Ipswich National Farmers' Union, said: "It has affected everyone and it will have a definite impact on incomes.

"There's still harvests to get in and it depends on the weather forecasts when that will be done. For the smaller farmers who haven't got crop drying facilities, it will probably hit them worse but it's difficult to quantify the full impact."

Nationally, there have been claims the continual downpours is doing more damage to farming than the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Some estimates have claimed farmers could lose up to £100 an acre on damaged crops.

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Richard Langton, 43, of Langton Farm, in Little Wenham, said he will be thousands of pounds out of pocket, but is determined to soldier on.

He said: "I haven't worked out exactly what this is going to cost me but it's fair to say it will run into thousands of pounds.

"We've got 300 acres of wheat left to harvest and it would not be far wrong to say it will cost about £100 for each of those that are lost.

"The best weather over the past few weeks has been on the weekends and that obviously creates more costs in terms of overtime paid to staff and other expenses."

Mr Langton said the only worse situation he can remember was in 1987, when he had to wait until September 18 to complete his harvest.

And he admitted he and his colleagues are feeling the pinch from this year's poor yield.

He said: "It's definitely putting severe financial pressure on farmers.

"I had hoped to spend money on various parts of the farm but the way things are now I won't be spending any money on capital projects. We're a family farm and we won't be able to do that.

"But I will soldier on."

Lord Haskins said the damage caused to crops by the wet weather was "disastrous' in some parts of the country.

Grain prices were "very, very low" and farmers were facing a "very uncertain outcome" for the wheat harvest and the oilseed rape harvest, he said.

Asked if the Government should compensate arable farmers, Lord Haskins said: "I think it is very difficult for them do so, because you don't quite know who to give it to.

"There are questions about legality within the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy.

"I think if there were cases of acute distress, where farmers are completely flooded out, then maybe there would be a case. I think this is a situation where I'm afraid farmers are going to have to carry the brunt themselves.'

Should farmers get help from government? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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