UK water security is being neglected by politicians, says NFU president

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With the recent hot weather and lack of rainfall, concerns are building for farming as UK water security considerations fail to gain attention.

NFU president Minette Batters has said that the Tory leadership candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, must set out emergency water plans before the drought disrupts next year’s farming too.

“I am calling on the two candidates to commit to food security, and water has to be one of the first places that we start as we will never have a resilient food system if we don’t have resilient water infrastructure,” Ms Batters told the Guardian.

“It’s immoral and unethical to think we can continue to go on allowing our water to be wasted. I want to hear from both of them how they plan to fix the huge problems we are currently facing when it comes to water.”

NFU members are raising their concerns as the dry weather and lack of water is threatening all manors of farming – including arable and livestock – going into next year too.

“In East Anglia, you’ve got farmers feeding cattle their hay in August – this is hay they only cut in June – because there is no grass left. They are already using their winter stock. This raises concerns for what they will be fed in winter,” said East Anglian NFU environment forum member, Jake Fiennes.

It is similar circumstances for arable farmers, adds Mr Fiennes. “Look at the sugar beet crop, sugar beet puts on the bulk of its weight in August and September so the sugar beet growers are going to have a significantly reduced tonnage.”

“I’ve seen sugar beet plants that are dying off. This is unprecedented: I have never seen anything to this extent in my 30-odd years of working on the land.”

Mr Fiennes also said that he was as confused as Ms Batters by politicians and water companies’ lack of concern. “I am slightly stunned by water companies apparently not wanting to upset people by not putting in place hosepipe bans: when we have drought and run out of food, when we have climate change, people will be really upset!”

Ms Batters concluded: “It amazes me how much we take food for granted, and we take water so for granted until it’s running short and then we start panicking about hosepipe bans. We need a radical rethink on how we maintain our precious supplies.”

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