THE NFU is looking ahead to ensure Worcestershire farmers can cope should the coronavirus crises extend into the annual harvesting season.

Traditionally the county has been a big producer of fruit, salad crops and hops and has relied on hundreds of temporary workers, especially from abroad, to help bring them in, but if travel restrictions are prolonged this labour stream could be cut off.

NFU West Midlands regional director Robert Newbery said the union was staying in close contact with its extensive network of Worcestershire and Herefordshire farmer and grower members to gather and relay important sector and COVID-19 information.

He added: “Like everybody we are concerned with developments and how the virus is evolving, farmers are feeding into us so we can build up a picture of the impact on their businesses.

“The industry is resilient and contingency plans are in place to ensure the smooth running of food and farming supply chains, which are absolutely vital at this time. Regardless of the timescale, we’ll be farming throughout this emergency, producing high quality, tasty, nutritious, affordable and traceable food here in Worcestershire and for the nation.

“The NFU is also a member of the UK Food Chain Emergency Liaison group, convened by Defra, and is having regular meetings to discuss the ongoing situation. Farmers are protecting themselves and their families where they can and as usual they are making sure animal welfare is a top priority.

“We will continue to work with Government and the food industry to do our utmost to minimise any disruption to the supply chain or to farm businesses. The NFU is also looking at key industry issues in relation to labour availability and market difficulties among others.”

Emma Hamer, NFU Worcestershire advisor, said: “At this time I would urge everyone to stay safe and keep talking to each other, this is important for all, especially the elderly, those on their own and those in remote, isolated, rural locations.

“NFU members can also contact the team, their group secretary or NFU CallFirst on 0370 8458458. On our website we have a dedicated updates and advice page on COVID-19 for farmers."