East Hampshire MP hears of farmers’ woes and income drop
ISSUES affecting farmers and growers were explained to East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds during his visit to the Blackmoor Estate.
William Wolmer hosted seven members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) from the Alton and Petersfield area to meet Mr Hinds and give him an update on the industry.
Hampshire NFU advisor Sandra Nichols gave a worrying overview of farm incomes. She told the meeting: “Farmers and growers lost about a third of their income in 2015.
“A staggering £1.5bn was wiped off farm incomes owing to a cocktail of over production of most commodities around the world and subdued demand due to slowing economies, particularly China.
“There have been two years of falling farmgate prices which has been unusual as it has covered just about every farming sector with dairy down by 33.5 per cent and wheat prices down by 38 per cent in that time.”
Petersfield dairy farmer Peter Caines told the meeting this dire situation had worsened for milk producers owing to a further price cut within the past few weeks.
A wide range of issues were discussed, ranging from crop protection and protecting pollinators to NFU’s pleas for the Government to mitigate the impacts of the National Living Wage on growers’ businesses.
NFU members and the MP enjoyed a full English breakfast provided by Julia Britten, the wife of Blackmoor Estate manager John Britten.
The MP also toured some of the estate’s orchards during his time at the site.
The men who took part in the meeting representing the various farming sectors were: William Wolmer – fruit, Blackmoor Estate, John Britten – Blackmoor Estate, Andrew Shirvell – arable, Peter Caines – dairy, Andrew Luff – horticulture, Andrew Bray – sheep, and Andrew Mckenzie – poultry.
As well as Mrs Nichols, also representing the NFU were Alton and Petersfield group secretary Richard Buer and Patrick Govier of Alton and Petersfield NFU/NFU?Mutual.
As part of the Hampshire Food Festival 2016, Blackmoor Estate will be hosting free tours of its cherry orchard and a cherry market on Sunday, July 24, from 10am to 4.30pm.
The nursery’s new mini cherry Cinderella, which produces fruit in late July, has won several awards, including best new plant.