NFU calls for farmers to plan for water shortages amid climate change worry

By Chris Wright, Partner and ARA specialist

As we have all witnessed, climate change is causing dramatic shifts in weather patterns, causing frequent and more severe droughts and water shortages.

Of course, no sector feels the impact of these changes more than the agricultural sector.

Record-breaking temperature levels and drier-than-average months reported by the Met Office have seen farmers affected by water shortages. Stakeholders in the agricultural sector should consider the strategies they can use to avoid the impacts of drought as it is clearly going to be a regular occurrence going forward.

One of the key elements the National Farmers Union (NFU) points out is the need for farmers to think about contingency planning and on-farm drought risk management.

Measures such as efficient water use, rainwater harvesting, separating potable and non-potable water, and addressing leakages in water systems are all important ways of getting through times of water shortages.

Additionally, improving resource management, especially fodder and soil, and introducing drought-tolerant grass and forage crop mixes can go a long way to ensuring farms are resilient to drought conditions.

The NFU rightly calls for long-term policies for managing water scarcity and flooding events.

This could include farm reservoirs and equipment designed to improve water efficiency measures.

The call for the Government food strategy to acknowledge drought risk as a global issue highlights the need for urgent solutions.

As food imports could become increasingly vulnerable due to global water shortages, it is important for the agricultural sector to assess and plan for risks accordingly.

The NFU is urging the Government to relax rules on governing farmed environment schemes. The dry weather in 2022 led to the Government relaxing such rules, allowing for easing shortages of bedding, fodder, grazing and forage crops through cutting and grazing options.

If you are making plans on how to best face water shortages and drought conditions and would like to discuss any potential tax reliefs, grants, and financial incentives that could support your farm’s resilience and sustainability, please contact our expert team today.