The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has called on the UK and Welsh Governments to take action now to reduce the impact of the dry weather on farms and livestock.
Across Wales, farms are experiencing major problems due to the dry weather, and the Welsh Government has already given the go-ahead for a number of derogations to help reduce the pressure.
In letters to Welsh Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths and UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove, the FUW has asked for the ministers to work with their counterparts across the UK to minimise current and looming problems.
An urgent meeting between the Cabinet Secretary, Welsh farming organisations and others has been requested.
Defra Secretary Michael Gove has been asked to consider ways in which the UK Government might intervene to prevent crops being burnt in straw-fired power stations - including introducing a temporary ban on the practice to increase supplies available for animals.
FUW vice president Eifion Huws said: “We had an unusually wet and long winter, meaning farms had to house livestock for longer than usual and fodder supplies had run out before the spring.
Having started the new season with fodder reserves at zero, we have now gone from one extreme to the other, with soaring temperatures and the extended dry period adding to problems caused by the previous wet weather.
Huws said streams, wells and boreholes had dried up, grass growth was severely affected, with many areas killed off, and a fall in the quality and quality of hay and straw crops.
“Grass growth is so badly affected many are now feeding animals with first-cut silage which would normally not have been used until the autumn, and the chances of making up for that as summer progresses are vanishingly small.
“This means even if conditions this coming autumn and winter are more normal than they were during the past 12 months, fodder shortages will hit farmers early on, causing major problems as we go into the winter.”
Temporarily ban on using straw in power stations
Huws said the fact that crops which are likely to be desperately needed by farmers over the coming year is being burnt in straw-fired power stations added to concerns.
“We have asked the Secretary of State to consider ways in which the UK Government might intervene to minimise the additional problems which will hit our industry if desperately needed supplies have been used in this way.
“That includes introducing a temporary ban on the practice in order to increase the supplies available for animals over the coming winter.
“We also believe an urgent meeting between our Welsh Cabinet Secretary, Welsh farming organisations and others is needed to investigate what actions can be taken in Wales to alleviate current problems and those we are likely to face this coming winter.”