Vegetable production at lowest levels since 1985, warns NFU

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The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Minette Batters has warned that “we’re seeing the lowest levels of tomatoes and cucumbers produced since records began in 1985.”

Speaking with BBC Radio 4 on Monday (30), Minette said that the more often farmers produce less food, the more that it drives further cost inflation.

She said that decisions of what to plant “will have been made effectively at the beginning of the autumn period last summer, when gas prices were at their most volatile,” adding that prices were 650 per cent higher than back in 2019.

“It is the volitality that is driving a lot of this and to date the cost inflation that farmers and growers are facing has absolutley been dwarfed by any price increases,” Batters said, adding that there is contraction- “lowest levels of tomatoes and cucumber produced since records began in 1985”.

She further added that due to more than 50 per cent rise in cost to keep glasshouses warm, farmers are instead considering to use it as storage instead of using them to grow crops.

NFU president called on to find incentives for farmers to give them confidence to keep producing and not contract.

The warning came more than a month after NFU issued a similar warning stating that the UK is “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis unless it urgently provides support to those struggling with the soaring cost of the “three f’s”- fuel, feed and fertiliser.

NFU said the shortages of eggs could spread to other food products, as UK fruit and vegetable growers and meat and dairy producers come under pressure from soaring costs for energy and animal feed, combined with the challenge of finding enough staff.

“Huge issues for pigs, for poultry meat, for eggs, for fresh produce,” NFU’s president, said Batters, warning that more reliance on food imports could further push up price inflation.

Farmers have faced rising costs since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the NFU said, as fertiliser prices have tripled since 2019, on top of a six-fold increase in wholesale gas prices.