CONCERNS about surging input costs on farm and the need for our country to think more about food security, inevitably hung in the air as farm chiefs met Copeland MP Trudy Harrison.

Initially, the discussion was due to centre around the United Utilities water pipeline project, but farmers led by National Farmers Union Cumbria County Chairman, Ian Bowness, questioned the invasion of Ukraine and the ripple effects it was causing for farming.

Agricultural supplier Carrs Billington had quoted Mr Bowness 120ppl for red diesel - three months ago that price had been 60ppl. He told his fellow farmers that Carrs had limited him to purchasing 500 litres. “I can get two days work done on that amount and then I’ll have no diesel on the farm,” explained Mr Bowness.

Conversation at the round-table meeting at Sandhills Farm at Keswick, turned to food security concerns and upland sheep farmer and former NFU Cumbria County Chairman Will Cockbain asked what message Secretary of State George Eustice MP would be taking to a meeting Will believes he is attending.The MP said she was not aware of the meeting.

Secondly the MP agreed to contact Defra colleagues to push for the reductions of the BPS payments to be put on hold for 12 months so the impact of the commodity prices can be assessed.

Thirdly there was agreement that some form of Cumbria wide Food Security Council to look at the rise in inputs and the impact on self-sufficiency may be helpful.

Later it was agreed that Ms Harrison would have a meeting with local land agents who have been working on behalf of farmers whose land has been impacted by the UU pipeline.

Keswick farmer and meeting host, John Langcake said: “The pipe has gone through the middle of all our fields. We were told it would take between 12 and 18 months to get our land back. It’s now five years and has really adversely affected drainage.”

Trevor Kitching of Sykes Farm in Keswick added: “They have damaged all of the soil structures. Four to six inches were taken off the top soil.”

Mr Bowness said: “Can we get the drainage issue back on UU radar and our land back to the way it was before?”