Lincolnshire farmers 'gambling' with futures amid cost of living crisis

The Lincolnshire Show returns for the first time since 2019 amid the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

The event is steeped in agricultural heritage but it's no longer just a celebration of farming.  The organisers bill it as offering something for everyone, with cookery demonstrations, BMX displays and fly pasts.

However, it remains an event keenly attended by the county's farmers and food producers.  A chance to come together to talk about the industries they work in.

From fuel to feed to fertiliser to labour – all the costs of running a farm have gone up.

The electricity that farmers use to power their farms has become more expensive and consumers are feeling the brunt though the cost of groceries.

With decades of experience, growing crops and breeding cattle in Lincolnshire, Emma and Mark Billings are used to the challenges that farming brings.

This year, though, has been unprecedented. Emma told me: "It's the increase, mainly the fertiliser, that has just been so frightening.

"From £200 pounds up to nearly £1,000. That jump for a small mixed farm like us is just unbelievable."

While farmers are used to uncertainty, they are facing new challenges beyond their control such as the unknown end value of their products and logistical costs.

Many farmers fear losing their business altogether. Not far from Lincoln, they're manufacturing fertiliser using raw ingredients sourced from abroad.

The war in Ukraine has had an impact on both fuel and grain for farms in our region.

Managing director at Nutrel Products, Chris Norris, said: "It started with Brexit, then we had container prices increase from the far east. We've had the fuel crisis, Covid has had a major impact and then finally we've had the issue over in Ukraine and Russia.

The 'frightening' costs of farming and food

  • The cost of fertiliser has risen by as much as 400% in the last year.

  • Grain, a key ingredient in animal feed, is up 70%.

  • The average price of a pint of milk was 36p in spring 2002. According to the Office for National Statistics it is now 51p. (office of national statistics)

  • A loaf of bread has practically doubled in price from 58p to 115p.

"Basically, it's created a bit of a perfect storm - all of those contributing factors have basically suppressed supply and obviously demand has far outstripped supply and we are left with products in short supply and prices are going through the roof."

The Lincolnshire Show attracts farmers from our region and beyond

Gill Burton of Manor Farm Shops knows about the price increases all too well. She told me: "Anything wheat based involving flour and everything else have probably gone up 20%... it's out of our control."

There's no guarantee the situation will ease any time soon. Farmers in our region are hoping that they'll get a good season to protect themselves for whatever comes their way.