A North Yorkshire farmer says the problems posed by climate change have left him “exhausted” – and called for a “re-think” over how food is supplied and priced.

Richard Bramley, an arable farmer in Kelfield near Selby, said flooding and warm weather in recent years are “colossal issues” for British farmers.

He added that the ongoing war in Ukraine creates “further distortions in agricultural trade”, which comes as agricultural and environmental policy is “still finding its feet” after Brexit.

Mr Bramley is an environment forum chair for the National Farmers' Union and has been collaborating with the non-profit Round Our Way to raise awareness of some of the impacts of climate change.

Gazette & Herald: Arable farmer Richard BramleyArable farmer Richard Bramley (Image: Alex Brown)

“Working my 500 acres near York, I’ve been acutely aware of significant changes afoot for over 20 years. Despite investing in more efficient machinery, the job isn’t getting easier,” he wrote in a column published by The Press.

“I’ve never felt so exhausted, although I don’t believe it’s just physical tiredness.

“While it’s perhaps an age thing to some extent, I am still under the often-quoted average farmer’s age of 59.”

These problems have had health impacts for some farmers, Mr Bramley explained, noting: “A recent Farm Safety Foundation survey found that 95 per cent of UK farmers under the age of 40 struggle with their mental health and statistics for the worst manifestation of this are utterly tragic; 2021 data showed 36 farmers took their own lives.”

Looking to sustainable farming – meeting society's present food and textile needs – Mr Bramley said food supply chains and prices play an “essential” part, adding there “must be a re-think” at a retail level.

“The current model puts huge financial pressures on farmers, with many unable to continue working,” he wrote.

Farmers 'vital to the security and the fabric of our country' - PM

Mr Bramley’s concerns follow Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Farm to Fork summit, held earlier this month.

Mr Sunak told the summit the UK must reduce its reliance on overseas fruit and vegetables and back British producers.

He told British farmers and growers that they are “vital to the security and the fabric of our country”.

The summit included publication of the first UK Food Security Index which would “ensure the government and sector is resilient to unexpected shocks to the market and extreme weather”, Downing Street said ahead of the meeting.

Sir Robert Goodwill, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) and MP for Scarborough and Whitby, said: “The farming sector works tirelessly to feed the nation and protect its natural environment, and I wholeheartedly welcome the PM’s commitment to backing our British farmers.

“It is vital that farmers and agricultural industries are provided with the support they need to thrive, against the difficult conditions they are facing.”

Keir Mather, MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: "Farmers are on the front line of the climate crisis, but too often they are not recognised for the contribution they make – not only in food production but in flood prevention, land management and the protection of biodiversity."