Somerset farmer slams fuel duty cut as 'a bit of a joke' amid call for support

Farmers are calling for more help from the Government in the face of soaring fuel and fertiliser prices.

Oliver Edwards, a farmer on Exmoor, says the chancellor's recent 5p cut in fuel duty was 'a bit of a joke'.

He said: "We need fuel for our quad bikes to go round and check our stock and do work on our farm. They hardly ever go on the road and yet we are paying full road tax for our fuel."

He looks after 600 acres of land at Westermill Farm, just a few miles from the source of the River Exe on Exmoor.

At its highest point, the farm is 1,400ft above sea level. There is a lot of ground to cover, a campsite to look after, along with 500 sheep.

At the moment, Oliver is half way through calving his herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle. One of the biggest challenges facing farmers this spring is the rocketing price of fertiliser.

Oliver says the Chancellor should have gone a lot further with the fuel duty cut. Credit: ITV West Country

He said: "The last lot of fertiliser I bought was about £350 a tonne. It's now over a £1,000 a tonne. We have made the decision this year not to buy any."

Leanne Barribal is farmer on Dartmoor and she also wants to feel more valued by the government.

She said: "We produce the three keys to life on a farm. We can clean the air, we can produce cleaner water, and we can grow amazing quality food - whether that's beef, lamb, vegetables, fruits. Yet we don't feel like we're honoured for doing that.

"The biggest challenge is costs going up and we have no control over how much we sell our product for. We're basically flying blind all the time.

Farmer Leanne Barribal says many farmers struggle with mental health and rising costs aren't helping. Credit: ITV West Country

"I just want to know the government supports us. Many farmers struggle with mental health and it doesn't help when we think they just want to push us out.

The Government says it is trying to help farmers, announcing a package of support measures today. It says it will pay farmers to help with the costs of sowing nitrogen-fixing plants and "green manures" in or ahead of their crops, to reduce the need for artificial fertiliser.

There will also be a relaxation of the regulations on spreading manure and grants to help build more slurry storage.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "Many of the challenges we face in agriculture will require a fusion of new technology with conventional principles of good farm husbandry.

Farmers are right in the middle of calving season Credit: ITV West Country

"The measures we have announced today are not the whole solution but will help farmers manage their nitrogen needs in the year ahead."

For Oliver Edwards there is no question of giving up. They plan at least ten years ahead and have to find a way to ride the peaks and troughs.He said: "It's challenging. I'm up for a challenge. Farmers are always up for challenges and we always rise to the challenge.

"We always try to make the best we can of what we've got."