UFU calling on retailers to back local growers

Field sowed with turnip in Co Down.
Field sowed with turnip in Co Down.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is calling on supply chain partners, including big and small retailers, to support local growers as the dry weather continues.

UFU vegetable chairman Adrian McGowan said some areas hadn’t had substantial rain fall since May.

He added: “The extreme weather conditions have made it a very difficult growing year. We have gone from a very wet spring, which delayed and affected the establishment of crops, to severe drought with no recovery time in between. Right now, we are simply battling to keep crops alive with the hope that more rain will arrive soon.”

The unusual weather pattern has added an extra financial burden to farm businesses as farmers attempt to save crops.

Mr McGowan said retailers and packers must urgently review farm gate prices across all field vegetables.

He added: “Farmers are irrigating fields, which is highly unusual for here and it is adding to production costs. We are looking to our retail and processing partners to recognise this and the extreme circumstances we are facing.”

The UFU says the continued downward pressure on farm gate prices hasn’t helped the situation.

“Farmers’ returns continue to be squeezed making it more and more difficult for a business to survive these sort of unpredictable events,” said Mr McGowan.