UK: Call to deem food production as 'vulnerable' amid surging energy costs

Hard-pressed farming businesses are to be included in new measures to address soaring energy costs, but calls have been made for the government to go further and deem food production as 'vulnerable'. Businesses will get help with surging energy bills, with prices capped for six months, a smaller period of protection than many had asked for.

The support, announced by the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, will be made available for businesses in England, Wales, and Scotland, with equivalent assistance for Northern Ireland. The scheme will be in place for six months and will be reviewed in three months' time "to consider where this should be targeted to make sure those most in need get support."

When the review comes, farming and agri-food businesses must be considered as 'vulnerable,' NFU Scotland has said, with an extended energy cost cap going beyond the proposed six months. The union's survey on electricity prices closed this week after 110 farming businesses shared their details on their rates and tariffs.

It showed that, for nine out of ten families, electricity supplied to the farmhouse comes as part of the business, so previous and future domestic price caps have provided no benefit or relief so far. From a business perspective, nine out of ten farmers who replied were previously paying less than 20p per kWh for their electricity and are now having to deal with renewal rates and quotes coming in at up to 92p per kWh.

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