Farmers counting cost of 2012 wash-out

A leading local farmer admits the industry is counting the cost of the wettest year on record but says he does not expect prices to rocket .

Belchford-based AW Smith and Sons Limited is one of the county’s major wheat producers.

John Smith revealed the company’s wheat yield in 2012 was 40 per cent down on the previous 12 months and that one-third of the usual wheat crop had not even been planted this year - because of bad weather.

The price of bread - and other basic foodstuffs - has increased and there have been grim warnings about more rises in 2013.

However, Mr Smith stressed he did not expect any significant increases, thanks largely to the amount of wheat Britain imports from Germany and Canada.

Mr Smith said: “I have been involved in farming for more than 30 years and I have never experienced anything like the last 12 months.

“Last March, we were all complaining about a drought but since then, it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining.”

Mr Smith admitted the low yield had been exacerbated by a reduction in quality and had also cost more to produce.

He added: “In general, it will take two really good years to recover.

“The problem now is a third of our wheat is not even in the ground.

“It’s not just the rain. It’s the cold and lack of sunshine.

“This area doesn’t seem to be as bad as others.

”I’ve friends in Oxfordshire who haven’t planted any wheat at all because of flooding.

“It is worrying but there is no need to panic. Some people are talking the problems up ridiculously.

“There is plenty of wheat on the world market but that could change, if there are bad harvests in countries we rely on for imports.”

Mr Smith revealed many pig and chicken farmers were struggling because of a 50 per cent hike in the cost of animal feed.