The aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact of Putin’s actions continue to be felt throughout the world – significantly impacting many areas of food and farming. The UK has seen energy and fuel costs rapidly escalate which, in turn, has posed serious questions about food and energy security.


Ramifications of Ukraine war 

The far-reaching consequences of Russia’s reprehensible decision to invade Ukraine have begun to be felt across the globe. NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy warned that governments and supermarkets need to act quickly, or risk being held responsible for the biggest food inflation rise in generations.

The world has changed beyond belief in a very short space of time – the reasons driving that change are tragic – and food security must now be our number one priority,” he says.

Mr Kennedy believes retail prices need to rise significantly otherwise farmers will scale back production. “Farmers will not produce food without seeing a return. For far too long we have been taken for granted and been rewarded poorly for our fantastic efforts to feed the country with high quality food.


Turn farms into fortresses, experts warn

As prices soar and shortages on forecourts become more common, landowners are being warned to protect themselves against diesel and fertiliser thefts. Experts believe the current climate could create a perfect storm and those with supplies should act quickly to protect themselves.

Every farm is different, and needs security measures appropriate to its location, layout and operation – but with normal trading hugely disrupted, everyone needs to up their game,” says Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual. Fertiliser costs have increased up to four-fold in the past year and despite the Chancellor’s reductions in fuel duty, diesel is still costing more than £1.75 a litre at the pump.

In the past, fertiliser thefts have been rare,” Rebecca adds. “However, the huge swing in prices makes it possible that thieves will be on the lookout for stored fertiliser and may even try to use farms’ own machinery to load it up to lorries.


Defra announces measures to help cash-strapped farmers

The government has revised its guidance on autumn manure applications as farmers struggle to contend with rising fertiliser prices. Plans to effectively ban autumn organic manure applications in most circumstances under the Farming Rules for Water have been shelved as has an expected ban on urea, to help farmers manage their costs and maintain production.

Mark Tufnell, President of the CLA, said: “The exceptionally high price of fertiliser can be mitigated only to a degree by high commodity prices. Some farmers may choose not to spread fertiliser at all this year. But if prices continued to stay at this all-time-high then government will need to urgently consider ways of increasing and diversifying domestic fertiliser production.


Energy Security Strategy unveiled

The government’s Energy Security Strategy was published on 7 April, revealing aims for the UK’s solar capacity to be increased by up to five times by 2035. Under the plans, as much as 95% of the UK’s electricity production could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

However, rural campaigners have warned those in power not to compromise food security in the race to revolutionise energy production.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “In order to give farmers the confidence to continue to produce food at scale, we need to see policies which reflect the importance of gas and electricity for food production. We also need immediate measures to boost energy efficiency and fast-track renewables like solar and on-shore wind power, which farmers are well placed to help deliver.

See our Energy team’s response to the Energy Security Strategy. 


Boiler ban on horizon for properties off the gas-grid

Owners of rural properties could be in for a nasty surprise in just four years’ time if the government continues with its proposed ban on new or replacement off-grid boilers. Scheduled to come into effect in 2026, as many as 2 million rural households could be forced to pay more than £10,000 for a new, energy-efficient heating system.

A government grant of £5,000 will be available, but with air-source heat pumps typically costing approximately £18,000 to install, rural homeowners will still need to find £13,000 to fund the installation.

In the consultation document, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says that it is working to drive costs down. “As part of the Heat and Buildings Strategy we are setting an ambition of working with industry to reduce the upfront costs of installing a heat pump by 25-50% by 2025 and to achieve cost parity between heat pumps and gas boilers by 2030.

Rural View

Our thoughts and insights on the key issues and opportunities within farming and rural businesses.