NFU president Minette Batters will chair a Ukraine crisis virtual event for members next week amid rising concern about the global effects of the Russian invasion.

The meeting, on Wednesday at 4pm, will look at what the impacts of the war in Ukraine are and how they can be mitigated.

Ms Batters said: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been devastating to the people who live there and we have offered assistance to Ukrainian farmers in any way possible.

“The war has also focused attention on the importance and fragility of food security, both at home and abroad. British farmers continue to stand ready to do all we can to ensure the public continues to have access to high-quality, affordable, climate-friendly food."

The NFU is urging the government to take a series of short and long-term actions that can "maintain confidence and stability across the UK’s food producing businesses," Ms Batters added.

"We have shared these with government and we want to stress that we stand ready to take these forward together, in order to navigate the extreme volatility we see today and expect to grow in the coming months.”

The NFU says the main factors putting food security at risk are:

  • Energy supply, specifically gas, which plays a critical role in UK food infrastructure at various stages;
  • Fertiliser, heavily linked to gas, a key input related to crop yields where a severe tightening of supply will lead to a reduction in output of commodities;
  • Grain and oilseeds, where given Ukraine and Russia account for 30 per cent of world wheat and 50 per cent of sunflower oil, seeds and meal exports, alongside other major commodity crops, sky-rocketing prices will impact both consumer food prices and the costs of livestock production;
  • Labour, as Ukrainian workers have made up about 60 per cent of the seasonal workers’ scheme since the UK left the EU.

The NFU is calling on the government to "take urgent action to address both the acute, immediate risks identified, as well as the additional, more structural policy blockages that accentuate the risk to our food security".

The union added: "We wish to be clear that while some of these proposals represent pausing or re-positioning existing policies, the focus should be on prioritising resources and effort at a time of international crisis."

Wheat prices continue to be buoyant, with analysis from the AHDB showing while March is only just over a week old, as it stands, the current monthly UK feed wheat price average is 39 per cent up on March 2021 at £279.40/t.

February marked the 22nd consecutive month that UK nearby feed wheat futures gained on the year. The monthly average nearby UK feed wheat price for February was £222.12/t, nine per cent up on year earlier levels.