June 18, 2011

As right as rain?

Rain at last – but too late to save this year's struggling harvest. The UK's arable farmers are being hit hard by the second dry year in row, and the second driest spring since records began. Cereal crop yields are likely to be well down this year, compounding the misery for farmers whose costs – seed, plant hire, fuel, fertiliser – remain the same, no matter what the weather.

Many livestock farmers are no better off. Some have had to buy in winter fodder for their animals for two years running, as snowy conditions meant they had to take them under cover for long periods, and their stocks of hay, harvested from already drought-hit summer pasture, ran out.

So spare a thought for the country's farmers next time you find yourself moaning about a spring shower. It may be an inconvenience for many of us, but it's crucial when it comes to the livelihoods of people who work on the land – and who, after all, put food on our plates.