NFU Urgently Addresses Spring Seed Shortage in the UK

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Challenges Amidst Adverse Weather Conditions

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is actively seeking solutions to the critical shortage of spring seed in the UK. Unfavorable weather, marked by persistent rainfall during autumn and winter, has led to one of the most challenging drilling seasons in memory. The incessant rain not only hindered autumn planting but also damaged or washed away planted seeds.

Impact on Growers and Crops

With the latest storm likely closing the window for winter seed planting, growers are now turning to spring seed. However, the lack of available spring seed poses a significant threat to this year’s crop. NFU Combinable Crops Board Chair Matt Culley highlights the urgency of addressing this issue to ensure that all growers can bring their crops to harvest.

Survey Highlights Concerns

A flash survey conducted by NFU revealed alarming statistics:

– Around 70% of growers couldn’t plant 100% of their intended area, leading to increased reliance on spring crops.

– More than 60% lack grain from the 2023 harvest for farm saved spring seed.

– Less than 40% secured the required certified seed for spring crops.

– Almost 25% may not grow a crop in some fields due to seed shortage, and 20% are uncertain.

NFU Engages with Industry Leaders

NFU has been in discussions with industry leaders, including the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) and British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), seeking solutions. Despite ongoing seed processing, many growers reported being unable to source spring cereal seed. AIC and BSPB remain confident in meeting cereal sector needs and assure that seed availability will improve weekly.

Exploring Alternatives and Long-Term Solutions

NFU is exploring alternative solutions, including discussions with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) on the feasibility of rule relaxation for inter-farm grain trading. However, Defra indicates that short-term legislative changes are impractical. NFU is collaborating with Defra on a long-term solution to secure seed supply for every season.

Growers’ Reliance on Seed Supply Chain

For the upcoming spring, growers are dependent on the seed supply chain to deliver the required quantity of seed, ensuring a successful harvest as highlighted by the survey results. NFU remains committed to finding immediate solutions and developing long-term strategies to address seed supply challenges. 

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