Subsidies for crops grown to produce renewable energy are depriving UK farmers of affordable feed for their livestock.
With this year’s severe drought, the thorny issue is coming to a head.
The National Sheep Association suggested that if the land currently being cropped for anaerobic digester plants was still growing crops for livestock feed, there would be far less concern over winter feed shortages.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said, “The risk of feed and bedding shortages is fast approaching and costs are rocketing, yet potential feed stock, cereals, maize and grass, as well as straw for biomass, is dedicated to energy production. That is why NSA is calling for a rethink around incentives for AD plants and large-scale biomass burners.”
Mr Stocker continues, “In an age of increasing concern over food supplies and sustainable land management, NSA finds it deeply concerning that crop based energy production should be disproportionately incentivised.”
National Farmers Union Scotland president Andrew McCornick agreed, adding, “For some farmers, non-food production is earning them an income that they would not get in food production.
“Had the cereal industry or the horticulture sector been properly rewarded for food production, then these schemes may not be getting adopted in the manner that they are. Similarly, had the livestock sector been fairly rewarded for food production, then uptake of these schemes would have been more limited.”
This is a bizarre situation we find ourselves in, though not terribly surprising.
Farmers are desperate for feed, paying over the odds for it, yet government schemes would rather see it pissed away on some renewable energy scam than bolster the nation’s food security.