For many of us, the gloom of Britain's six-month winter will finally be over this week when warmer temperatures herald the actual arrival of spring. But for those in the farming, horticultural and food industries, the misery of what has been dubbed the "springter" is set to continue for weeks. Rural bankruptcy, soaring food prices and lack of consumer confidence are warning signs that the economy could tip into triple-dip recession later this month.
With soil temperatures still at winter levels, garden centres and nurseries are reporting their worst Easter for years, as green-fingered consumers failed to spend money on plants they cannot get into the ground. As many crops need to be sown by the middle of April before the optimal sowing period ends, this has led to fears that unless the weather improves significantly in the next 10 days, farming in the UK will be in crisis.
Farmers have suffered catastrophic losses of livestock due to freezing temperatures and drifting snow, with the national body responsible for collecting carcasses revealing a 16 per cent rise in dead sheep and nearly 6 per cent in dead cattle, compared with this time last year....
PUBLISHED: 11:04 GMT, 6 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:24 GMT, 6 April 2013
The cold weather has devastated wheat crops across the country, forcing Britain to import more of the grain than it exports for the first time in a decade.
The ruined harvests, which have cost farmers £500million, will force Britain, traditionally a significant net exporter of wheat, to boost imports by more than a million tonnes.
The freeze has also damaged many of the seeds that have been sown in recent weeks, meaning the next harvest will also be affected.
The cold weather has devastated wheat crops across the country, forcing Britain to import more than it exports for the first time in a decade. File picture shows wheat farm in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland
Mike Thomas, of the National Farmers Union (NFU), told the Independent: 'The last 12 months have been unreal for farmers.
'Last April we had a drought and talk of a hosepipe ban, then we had to contend with heavy rains and flooding and then the wintery weather, frozen land and snow.’
Britain is facing importing about 1.5million tons more wheat than it exports in this 'crop year' - which runs from July 2012 to June 2013....