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Climate change   |   Farming

UK fruit and veg threatened by climate change

Raise your voice and let everyone know you care about action on climate change.

That is the message behind the annual ‘Show the Love’ campaign on social media, which launched today alongside a new report revealing how climate change is threatening UK-grown fruit and veg.

People are encouraged to share what, or who, they would want to protect from the impact of climate change on social media under the hashtag #ShowTheLove, to raise the issue up the agenda and press government into action.

“The whole point of the Show the Love campaign is that we can show the government how many people care and lobby them for legally binding targets,” said Clara Goldsmith, director of the Climate Coalition, a group of over 130 organisations and which runs the campaign. “1.5 degrees warmer isn’t ideal, but that’s what we should be aiming for. Show the Love is a chance to show how many people across the country care about climate change.”

Every year the Climate Coalition chooses a different part of everyday life to highlight the impact of climate change. This year’s report, entitled ‘Recipe for Disaster’, looked at the effect of extreme weather on British fruit and veg growers over the last three years.

It found that British potato growers lost between 20 and 25 per cent of their crop in 2018, due to a cold and late spring, followed by torrential rain in late May, with the remaining potatoes were smaller than average and misshapen.

British onion growers lost on average 40 per cent of their crop compared to 2017 due to high temperatures, while apple growers suffered due to high temperatures as most production is concentrated in the south of England. Apple grower and chair of the NFU’s horticulture board, Ali Capper, said she lost her entire apple crop in 2015 due to a freak hailstorm that lasted five minutes. 

British growers are facing extreme weather such as drought.

Individual companies were mentioned in the report, including organic veg box company Riverford, which lost around £250,000 due to extreme weather impacting profit, and fresh herb producer Valley Produce, which was unable to plant during cold temperatures and lost sales as a result.

“People assume that climate change is beneficial for agriculture as there is the potential to grow more or different crops. But what this report highlights is that agriculture has been badly affected and will be badly affected by climate change,” said report author and journalist Tom Levitt. “Farmers can adapt to longer-term changes but not to short-term extremes.”

Levitt said there are adaptation measures that farmers can take, and said the coalition welcomed the NFU’s recent announcement that it wants UK farming to be net zero in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. He said supermarkets, restaurants, retailers and consumers can all help by continuing to sell, and buy, British produce even if wonky or smaller than usual. 


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