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British farmers look to be more efficient in drought conditions

Drought conditions force British farmers to call on the government for financial assistance in reducing greenhouse gases.


British farmers are preparing for high feed cost this winter as horrible drought conditions all summer ruined their chance to stockpile livestock feed for the colder months.

This may force those farmers to import expensive feed from other countries.

“British farmers are borrowing more money than they ever have before. We are importing more of our food and meat than we have done for decades,” said Guy Smith, the deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in a report from The Telegraph.

“This year, our grain harvests were down between 5 to 10 percent, but there are probably deeper problems in the livestock sector. That will bite soon,” he warned in the same report. He fears a reliance on imports of animal feeds from countries with lower environmental standards.

Reducing greenhouse gases

British farmers are feeling pressure from the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers in the region feel modern technology would help them reduce these gases. However, the expense from feed imports creates an inability for them to buy such technology.

The Telegraph reported that NFU has argued that emissions could be reduced if farmers were given financial support from the government.

“If your answer to climate change is to downsize agricultural production, we would argue that if it’s not thought through, it will simply outsource production to other parts of the world where agricultural practices might be more damaging,” Smith said in the report.

Modern technology has made it possible to reduce carbon emissions without decreasing efficiency of land and livestock production. Satellite-guided tractors, robotics and other digital sensors all help with efficiency.

Innovation isn’t cheap, though, hence the need for government assistance in times of drought and high import costs.

Drought in other areas

Drought is affecting livestock production in many parts of the world, including Australia, Canada and parts of Europe.

Extreme weather conditions have caused feed shortfalls in several Canadian provinces, which has led to designated regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec being eligible for livestock tax deferral provision. The government has released an initial list of these designated regions where livestock tax deferral has been authorized for 2018 due to drought or excess moisture conditions.

Drought in parts of the U.S. is making it hard for ranchers to feed their livestock, especially in states from Colorado to California and as far south as Texas. In mid-August, one report said, cattle operations have been forced to send animals to market early because the cost to feed them is too high. Large round bales are averaging $55 in Central Texas, up about 22 percent from $45 a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension Service has received reports of bales selling for up to $125 west of Austin.

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