Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Are Paying Heavy Toll for Rain; Farms and Rural Businesses Have Been Hit Hard over the Summer and Early Autumn by the Torrential Rain. from Crops to Livestock, the Weather Has Caused Issues Right across the Board. KAREN DENT Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Are Paying Heavy Toll for Rain; Farms and Rural Businesses Have Been Hit Hard over the Summer and Early Autumn by the Torrential Rain. from Crops to Livestock, the Weather Has Caused Issues Right across the Board. KAREN DENT Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: KAREN DENT

FROM our point of view, we are six weeks behind with everything, says Northumberland farmer Stoker Frater. Mr Frater, who has sheep, cattle and some arable as well as a contracting business, says the unusual weather patterns have caused massive disruption.

"The lambs haven't done well, silage was far later; the weather is a pain ... it just puts everything back," he says.

"There is a lot of straw lying that has never been baled. That has to be shifted.

"Silage-wise, there is any amount; there has been an abundance of forage made but if you are buying hard feed in, it's going to be a problem.

"I think there was quite a bit of hay made; we made some good hay but it will go up because people perceive it's going to be more expensive."

He says that his fields near Alnwick are bottomless and the cold nights have wiped out what grass was left ... not good news when he has far more lambs than usual on his hands.

"We'd normally have had quite a few more away by now so there are more to feed. We have sold 79 compared with 500 last year. If you look at that Northumberland-wide, that's a lot.

"You have no option, you just have to keep feeding them. Last year, they were away a lot earlier and we had a good lambing this year, so we have more lambs."

He said that both the price and the size of the lambs has also been hit by the weather.

"The lambs are back a bit price-wise because the quality is just not there, the finish on the lambs. A lot of people are now buying lambs by weight rather than condition. They are PS8/head down on last year."

And Mr Frater is also facing issues with his arable land. "We have half-ploughed and half-sown fields," he says. "You can't plan. It'll be lovely one day and it'll rain the next."

The difficulties come after the worst September storms in 30 years which compounded a summer of torrential rain.

An estimated 400-plus homes and businesses have been flooded, with the average cost of repairing and refurbishing a flooded property standing at around PS20,000.

There are also concerns about the effects of the rain on recently sown crops, but this will not be known until harvest time next year.

Jean Arnott, from Carlisle-based H&H Rural Insurance Brokers, said: "These storms and flooding suffered by many are still very much to the fore, a cruel reminder as to the necessity of insurance and making sure that your policy is up to date, as many are not.

"At times like these, our first response is to help and support those clients who have suffered loss or damage, from shed roofs being blown off in Aberdeenshire to grain stores being flooded in Yorkshire. "However, we are finding that in increasing instances clients have made changes on their farms and land and we have not been informed. …

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