A challenging year for the UK arable sector has showcased the industry’s resilience, with price increases being offset by inflation in input costs, most notably in fertiliser.
The season has been ‘useful’ for the NFU crops board from a policy point of view, as it looked to influence agricultural policy going forward, according to chief combinable crops adviser Jack Watts, speaking at CropTec, Peterborough, on Wednesday (November 28).
He said: “From an economic perspective it has been a tremendous year from a price point of view, but we are experiencing inflationary pressure as well.”
Mr Watts said arable had a lot to offer in terms of public goods, particularly long-term soil health, as well as cover crops, but this work could not be done without Government support.
He said the UK had a global obligation in supporting its arable production.
He said: “We talk historically about national food security. If the UK stopped producing wheat tomorrow, we would become the biggest net importer and displace wheat from some of the poorest regions of the world.”
He added it was important imports produced to lower standards elsewhere did not undermine British producers.
But the industry was not shouting loud enough about the good it did, with Mr Watts saying the industry had nothing to hide, but might look like it did from the outside.
“It is not true that we reach for chemicals first. That is the perception in many Ministers’ minds. We have nothing to hide on what this industry does and what this industry can deliver for society going forward.”
Globally, Brexit was not a concern to the market place, with bigger concerns in China, the USA and the role of Russia.