Fears drought and high petrol prices will cause UK food shortages this winter

There is a risk of food shortages in the UK this winter, experts have said, as drought and high gas prices put pressure on farmers.

While growers using greenhouses do not sow or wait for spring when there are more daylight hours, crops that would normally sustain the country during fallow periods, such as cabbages, carrots and potatoes land, are likely to have reduced yields due to drought, understands the Guardian.

Although there has been recent rainfall across the UK, which has been heavy at times, it has not been enough to replenish rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels, which have declined during the period. record drought. Farmers hoped that weeks of steady rain would make the soil softer for planting crops, but that didn’t happen.

Things are unlikely to improve during the crucial sowing periods in September, according to forecasts from the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology. Almost all river flows, except for some in the North West, Scotland and Northern Ireland, are forecast to be at low or exceptionally low levels for the month, and the long-term forecast does not suggest that it will be the very wet month which is necessary for the crops.

“The fruit and vegetable sector is undoubtedly in crisis,” said Rob Percival, food policy manager at the Soil Association. “Many growers have experienced a 20% reduction in crop production this year and most growers expect further reductions in the coming year. Without immediate and concerted action from the government, we can expect to see growing businesses go bankrupt and shortages on supermarket shelves. »

Charities have called for more support for producers. Ben Reynolds, Deputy Managing Director of Sustain, said: “Producers are faced with an impossible situation beyond their control. With the recent droughts and the impact of the climate crisis, it is more difficult to cultivate [reliably]worker issues and skyrocketing energy costs, there is a very real likelihood of empty shelves in the months ahead.

“Some producers will go bankrupt, running counter to government goals for us to be more self-sufficient, and it will affect the health of the country if citizens cannot access healthy and affordable food.

“The Government may believe that trade deals are the solution, if their plan is to let the UK agricultural industry decline and import more produce, but these problems are global, and leaving this to the free market may in practice mean a very empty market. They need to step in and find a way to reduce energy costs for food businesses and increase renewable energy capacity.

The Soil Association, which certifies organic food, is calling for more sustainable farming practices to be adopted by farmers and supported by government to alleviate drought in the future.

Percival said: “The government must come up with a comprehensive horticultural strategy that prioritizes agroecological cultivation. This year’s drought has resulted in reduced quality and yield, and these impacts can only be mitigated if the right incentives are in place to support cultivation techniques that build soil health and organic matter.

“Healthier soils can provide resilience to geopolitical and climatic shocks, and we can expect more severe shocks in the future,” he added.

A spokesperson for the National Farmers Union said: “Producers have certainly faced challenges due to the continued dry weather and general lack of rainfall this year. The resulting soil conditions will be a challenge for growers looking to plant and harvest crops over the next few weeks.

“When it comes to energy, growers, especially those that use more energy, like those growing under glass, are constantly worried about rising energy costs.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been contacted for comment.

Fears drought and high petrol prices will cause UK food shortages this winter

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