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    Food prices to rise as heavy rainfall impacts crop

    (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    Rain in recent months has drastically reduced the amount of food produced in the UK, farming groups have said, warning prices of food made of grains to rise in coming months.

    According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), prices of goods such as bread and other food made using grains are already rising and are likely to rise further. The areas that have been planted are likely to produce poor-quality crops as the soil is waterlogged, and some crops are likely to fail.

    AHDB stated today (10), “Given that the UK has also experienced continued wet weather this season, it is likely that our requirement for imported wheat will be historically high in 2024-25. Though given the volume of feed wheat in the UK at the moment, and the fact that feed wheat imports compete with maize, it’s likely that much of what we will import will be of milling standard.

    “Typically, the milling wheat imported to the UK is largely of German and Canadian origin, and therefore conditions in these countries could have the greatest impact on our domestic prices. On the other hand, France makes up a smaller proportion of total milling wheat imports.”

    The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has reported that the rain, combined with unseasonably low spring temperatures, is taking a toll on livestock farming, with a “bleak attrition rate for lambs born this spring already clear”.

    NFU vice-president, Rachel Hallos, said, “People should be in no doubt about the immense pressure UK farm businesses are under thanks to this unprecedented and constant rain. It’s no exaggeration to say a crisis is building. While farmers are bearing the brunt of it now, consumers may well see the effects through the year as produce simply doesn’t leave the farm gate.”

    It has been an exceptionally wet 18 months. According to the Met Office, 1,695.9mm of rain fell from October 2022 to March 2024, the highest amount for any 18-month period in England in recorded history. The Met Office started collecting data in 1836. Livestock and crops have been affected as fields have been submerged since last autumn.

    Wheat production is down 15 per cent since November, the biggest reduction in cropped areas since 2020. Oilseed rape is down 28 per cent, the biggest reduction since the 1980s, and winter barley is down 22 per cent at 355,000 hectares, the biggest reduction since 2020.

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