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U.K. Wheat Area Seen Falling 29% After Rain Prevented Planting

The U.K.’s wheat area may be 29 percent smaller than a year earlier after rain prevented farmers from planting winter crops, the National Farmers Union said.

Wheat production in the country, the European Union’s third-biggest grower, may be below-average for a second straight year, the Stoneleigh Park, England-based group said in an e-mailed report today, citing a survey of its crop boards’ members in England and Wales. In December, the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s Home-Grown Cereals Authority said the winter wheat area in England and Wales would be 1.39 million hectares (3.43 million acres), 25 percent smaller than a year earlier.

The U.K. had its second wettest year on record in 2012, the Met Office says, reducing last year’s harvest by 13 percent, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The wheat harvest in the U.K. usually starts in July.

“If the experts are to be believed and extreme weather is to become more frequent over the coming years, we must look at ways of supporting the industry,” Andrew Watts, the NFU’s combinable crops chairman, said in the statement. “After lower volume and quality from the 2012 crop put pressure on cash flow and profitability, the signals we are getting indicate these difficulties will continue after 2013.”

In a separate NFU survey, 45 percent of farmers said they were less confident about the prospects for their businesses in the next 12 months, compared with the outlook a year earlier. Short-term confidence was at “a new low,” according to the report.

The U.K. will get the lowest share of EU funds of all members for rural development programs on a per hectare basis, the NFU said in a separate statement today.

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