THE impacts of coronavirus on farm businesses will pale into insignificance in relation to the impact the dry weather has had on most sectors.

Rushes are a bane of mine and many upland farmers lives, taking up valuable space that could be growing grass. In a year like this every blade counts.

Weed wiping has worked in some areas but where we have bigger fields to do, spraying off is more effective for us.

The sun being out usually sees a boost for burger sales, fresh produce and salads and malting barley growers have demand for their barley increased as the beer gardens overflow.

However, as we are all facing reduced movements, only the uplift in supermarket spending is helping to balance the supply issues we have from the closure of food service.

Red meat sales have seen an increase resulting in an uplift in beef price. The Irish Farmers Journal published an article ‘UK prices stand out in a weak market’ which mentioned the three largest UK retailers, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda and their sourcing policies.

The article specifically mentions the NFU and our challenge to UK retailers who are now focusing on securing British beef, which has driven demand and is driving the price upwards.

It’s good to hear that the major retailers are supporting British farmers and I hope the same impact will be had on the dairy sector following their campaign to lift consumption.

The impact of Covid19 will have a long tail with many sectors feeling the impact for months to come. There are some sectors, such as potatoes, that have not been able to find a home for their crop.

Chipping potatoes have been particularly hard hit, growers with barley with potential for malting have been hit as contracts are reviewed in the anticipation of longer-term reduction in demand.

This is challenging as most crops are now facing stress from the heat which will no doubt impact on yield.

The regional team sit on a number of groups looking at economic recovery and pressure is being put on to get the hospitality sector back up and running so we can start to rebuild demand for the high quality produce from the region.

Support for businesses has been hard fought for and I am aware that there is a need for help in most sectors.

The bounce back loans have been well received by those that have applied and some members have accessed the self-employed support as well.

Businesses facing significant shortfall in income have tried to access Business Interruption Loans with mixed success.

Many businesses are already highly borrowed and as nice as an easy access loan might be, it still needs to be paid back.

The commodity teams are busy gathering evidence of impact on sectors such as ornamentals and potatoes to see if Defra will accept a case for support.

Sector specific support that has been offered has been extremely hard won, and in real terms will only help a small minority of those impacted.