Contract obligations and wet weather

Environment and climate
Trailer in a puddle

Selling on contract offers a level of certainty for many growers, supporting the ability to plan ahead with some level of confidence. 

However, with the unrelenting rainfall across the country, harvest prospects are predicted to be lower than average for many growers in England, leaving some businesses unsure if they will be able to fulfil their contractual obligations.

The NFU is conscious of the significant challenges facing members who have been affected by wet weather. Since October 2023, relentless heavy rain has left vast swathes of agricultural land saturated and in many cases still under water, impacting on growers’ ability to bring a commercially viable crop to harvest for 2024.

As the rain continues across much of England, the opportunities to replace damaged crops or establish spring crops on undrilled ground are few and far between. In many areas, the establishment window for spring crops, which would in normal circumstances have been undertaken during the early months of the year, could be missed completely.

Meeting contract obligations

NFU Combinable Crops chair Jamie Burrows said: “With cereals businesses already enduring significant reductions in income combined with the prospect of a reduced harvest, it is crucial for growers to stay informed about how any shortfall in meeting tonnage or quality obligations will be addressed in their agreements with buyers.

“If they have any doubts they should contact NFU CallFirst."

NFU CallFirst can be contacted on 0370 845 8458.

If you are concerned that you may not be able to meet your contracted tonnage, it is advisable to contact your buyer to discuss your situation, as well as contacting NFU CallFirst who will be able to provide initial legal advice and assistance with the potential contractual issues that may arise as a result of extreme weather.

Contract checking

The NFU also offers a Contract Checking Service delivered by the NFU legal panel firms for NFU members. NFU CallFirst can provide further information on this service.

The NFU has developed guidance around key contractual principles for members.

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