Rain delays harvest

Rain has led to delays in the harvest, with many crops still out on the fields and farmers using valuable fuel to dry the crops for storage.

NFU vice president Paul Temple told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Around 30 or 40 per cent of the wheat crop is still out there [in the fields]. The concern for farmers is rising cost of production and falling prices.’

The Government has temporarily relaxed rules banning farmers using equipment on waterlogged fields to get to crops, so farmers will have until October 4 to get their crops.

Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said: ‘I am very aware of the problems that farmers are facing in many parts of the country in getting the harvest in after all the heavy rain there has been, and the prohibition on using machinery on waterlogged soil is likely to make the problem worse.

‘In the light of this … I have decided to lift this restriction until 4 October 2008. We need to do all we can to help the harvest and I hope this decision will go some way to assist farmers who have been most affected.’

The NFU expects yield to be down by up to 10%, while food prices in UK shops have risen by 8.3% since January. Many crops are still out on the fields due to rain delaying the harvest.

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