The weather is a key challenge that the agricultural industry has to face on a regular basis. There is no doubt that the wet weather of recent weeks and months is now having a real impact on how farm businesses are operating.

Many of us are currently at the height of the lambing period, one of the busiest periods in the sheep farmers calendar. Already fatigued, juggling responsibilities and working long shifts through the night, the harsh, wet weather and sodden ground is making life even more difficult this spring. Ensuring that the health of the ewes and that the lambs flourish with so much of the ground saturated is proving challenging, and that’s without the looming shadows of diseases such as Schmallenberg, a virus spread by infected midges that has seen evidence of a surge in infections during recent months. 

Many of our members are reporting difficulties turning the lambs and their mothers out of lambing sheds and onto grassland to graze. This results in the need to continue to provide feed concentrates which is much more expensive than allowing our lambs to graze the natural Welsh grassland.

The wet months are also having a negative impact on crops. The financial investment and the time commitment required to cultivate and seed in the autumn has, for many members, been wasted as we see many farms losing a high percentage of their crop. 

Seed has not germinated sufficiently, the rain has saturated the ground and the seeds have either failed or a percentage of the new growth has been carried away with rainwater. It all results in a financial loss and a shortage of food to fatten stock over the next period will have a negative impact running into next winter. Feed will have to be bought in - an additional cost not anticipated or planned into our members’ cash flow projections. 

For farmers who grow crops such as grain, maize, potatoes and vegetables the story is similar. There are already stories of potatoes rotting in sodden fields, another hit to supply and worrying to farmers pockets. With a sack of potato currently retailing at £20 we’ll no doubt see a rise again in costs similar to what we saw last autumn. 

Shortages in these sectors will mean higher prices due to demand which can ultimately have an impact on the cost of feed and straw for farmers and, in due course, for customers purchasing food from shops. 

For dairy and beef farmers wet ground brings further challenges.  Many will now be ready to turn cattle out of the sheds and into the fields because the winter fodder is running low. But, turning cattle out onto wet land means that a cow weighing over half a ton turns the grass (their feed) into mud and creates holes and furrows in the land. Forced to keep animals under-cover our members are again having to pay for feed that would usually be provided by nature.

A year ago, the FUW took part in a webinar which highlighted the effects of drought on the industry. It is confirmation, if needed, that managing a farm by following the seasons and checking a calendar is a concept that has long been lost. We have to adapt, change and prepare, as best we can, to face the changes that are happening within the environment and the climate around us.

One thing is certain, we need to talk… about the weather, our troubles, concerns and our delights. Keep talking everyone and turn to a friend, a family member or even a stranger if you’re struggling. The DPJ Foundation is ALWAYS on hand, a problem shared is a problem halved. Call 0800 587 4262 or visit for further advice if you’re in need of support at this moment in time.