Martin Kennedy is President of the National Farmers Union Scotland(NFUS). In a blog post on the NFUS website dated 30th March he warns of an upcoming food crisis if something is not done to help farmers and food production in the UK.
Looking at the figures provided in the article, there are certainly some very large increases in costs for farmers looking to prepare for harvest in 2022.
Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer alone has increased in price by £200 per tonne between January and March 2022. That is on top of the £400 per tonne increase between January 2021 and January 2022.
Feed barley which was £222 per tonne at the 1st March was quoted at £310 by the end of March. This from a cost of £151 in January 2021.
These unprecedented increases in production costs have caused farmers to re-evaluate their proposals for 2022. Many animal farmers will cut the number of animals they produce to reduce feed costs.
For arable farmers, the cost of fertilizer could make the difference in the number of fields planted.
Not forgetting that the increased costs of diesel and energy will affect production as things like drying of grains needs to be factored in.
These costs are before any products leave the farm.
For animal farmers, the staff shortages in meat processing means they may not be able to get the animals to market at the optimum time. For arable farmers, the staff shortages for harvesting many crops will also affect what and how much is planted. Many farmers who used glass houses for growing crops have already planted less than this time next year as they cannot afford the energy costs to run them.
Looking at this as a bigger picture. The writing is on the wall, food prices are going to rise and they are going to rise by quite an amount. Until the costs of production are reduced substantially, farmers and producers are going to have to pass these costs onto customers. If they don’t, they will make a loss which could in turn mean that they don’t produce at all next year which would be catastrophic for food production in the UK.