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Britain’s supermarket bosses are being urged to help UK farmers bounce back from the disastrously wet winter and spring. In a joint letter to... Retailers ‘must help farmers rebound from wet weather’

Britain’s supermarket bosses are being urged to help UK farmers bounce back from the disastrously wet winter and spring.

In a joint letter to major retailers, leaders of Britain’s four main farm unions say the challenging weather has brought food security into sharp focus. And they call on supermarket bosses to demonstrate their commitment to UK farming.


The letter to retail chief executives was sent on behalf of the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and the Ulster Farmers’ Union. Exceptional rainfall has increased costs and disrupted individual farm businesses, it says.

The letter warns: “These challenges come at a time when many of our members are already struggling to remain viable due to the perfect storm of sustained and spiralling production costs, low market returns, and increasing levels of regulation.

“This latest challenge, while not new, is more acute than ever, and is compounding the pressure on our members. Farmers and growers continue to bear the lion’s share of the risk within their supply chains, and this is unsustainable.”

Local sourcing

Farm leaders say major retailers should maintain a steadfast commitment to local sourcing. Average food prices in the UK are already some of the lowest in the world – and there needs to be fairness in the supply chain, they add.

There should also be flexibility on product specification. Unprecedented challenges mean it is possible that farm produce may now not fully conform to the exact specification previously agreed, says the letter.

To ease cash flow challenges, supermarkets should pay suppliers promptly. This will help farmers keep their businesses functioning. The letter says promotion will help ensure UK consumers can keep on enjoying high-quality British food.

Key role

Farm leaders are in talks with their respective governments on further support to help the industry navigate these short-term challenges. But they say retailers also have a role in helping farmers withstand this latest crisis.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the current challenges are some of the most acute the industry has faced in a very long time, and we need your support more than ever to maintain food production across the UK and safeguard our food security.

“Our members will continue to work tirelessly in the face of this latest adversity to maintain their high standards of production and welfare that your customers have now come to expect,” adds the letter.

It concludes: “We now urge you to support our members’ efforts.”

Charity gears up for annual Open Farm Sunday

Organisers preparing next month’s Open Farm Sunday say they want even more farms to open their gates and welcome  the public.

The Linking Environment And Farming charity (LEAF) says it has been approached by all types of growers and livestock producers to promote a positive image of the industry on Sunday, 9 June.

Welcoming visitors on farm doesn’t have to be complicated, says OFS manager Annabel Shackleton. Now in its 18th year, the industry’s annual open day provides an opportunity for every farmer to put their stories centre stage, she adds.

“It’s a misconception that you need a blockbuster budget and an army of volunteers to host an event –  that’s not the case. There is real scope to develop an Open Farm Sunday format that works for you.”

The Open Farm Sunday Handbook provides a step-by-step guide to hosting different events – with guidance on posters, signage, gate banners, “ask me” badges and give-aways for children.

For details, visit