Organic livestock farmers face problems from dry summer

UK - Around a third of organic beef and sheep farmers may be considering reducing stock levels as a result of a lack of forage following this year’s dry summer, according to a survey of organic livestock farmers carried out by Graig Producers, the organic livestock marketing group.
calendar icon 6 October 2006
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It is also likely that organic forage will be in short supply, with a third of respondents to the survey also saying they are planning to buy in organic forage for the winter.

However, the survey, carried out across Wales, the Borders and West Country over the last two weeks, also shows a very mixed picture of forage availability, perhaps reflecting the localised weather conditions over the summer. Whilst half the farmers surveyed described their forage harvest in 2006 as poor or very poor, a further 30% described it as good or very good, with 20% viewing the harvest as normal. Several said that they had good quality but poor quantity. A number, whilst having a normal harvest had to start feeding it during and after the dry spell.

Nigel Elgar, Director of Graig Producers, described the results as worrying in terms of supplying the strong demand for organic lamb and beef at present. “We are doing so much to ensure that the market is well supplied, particularly after Christmas when there are normally shortages, that these figures suggesting stock reductions are very disappointing” said Elgar. He remained positive about organic livestock prices “We have succeeded in obtaining minimum price undertakings from the supermarket processors for this coming winter, so prices will not drop significantly. This should give confidence to everyone that there will be a strong demand. We hope as a result that those who can, will take on store lambs and beef with this added price confidence”.


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