Farmers are being urged to start forward planning how they will build and manage their winter forage and bedding stocks following the cold, wet spring of 2021.

Sector charity Forage Aid has been receiving reports of shorter stocks of straw in livestock areas, although forage yields do seem to be holding up considering the poor start to the spring.

Forage Aid founder and chairman Andrew Ward MBE said: "Our Trustees have been monitoring forage and bedding stocks in their own areas. Whilst the results are anecdotal, we do have growing evidence that forage stocks are looking better than expected, however stocks of straw are low and prices are rising. Our experience shows that these conditions normally lead to problems later in the year."

Livestock farmers in some areas have struggled with forage and bedding over the last few years, as droughts, wet weather and cold spells have disrupted their ability to grow and conserve forage. Forage Aid itself reported that it had become increasingly difficult to encourage donations of forage, and where its Trustees had agreed to an application for support, the charity was having to purchase forage and straw rather than rely on donations.

"We are encouraging livestock farmers to start planning for winter 2021/22 and how they can conserve enough forage to see them through to next spring," said Forage Aid Trustee and former president of the National Farmers Union, Meurig Raymond. "We are also urging farmers to start planning straw purchases for the winter ahead as we see this a real pinch point. Get in touch with your merchant early and start discussing how you can get supplies onto the farm."

Longstanding Trustee, Ed Ford, also put out a rallying call to his fellow arable farmers about baling straw for livestock farms and encouraged more collaboration between the two sectors: "With arable crop prices looking healthy it might be an easier decision not to bale straw, however we would be grateful if all arable farmers considered baling some straw and get it into the system to ensure that our livestock areas have good access to bedding materials across the winter."