NFU Scotland has called on food production to be viewed as a critical industry when the government announces its review of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, expected before Christmas. The union warned that failure to extend the support offered to food and agri-businesses beyond 31 March 2023 would 'condemn' consumers to a further escalation in food prices. It would "undermine the nation's already fragile food security" as well, the NFU stated.
The impact of electricity costs and having the energy cost cap for farm businesses extended has been a lobbying priority in recent visits by the UK's farming unions. Through the scheme, announced in September, the government provides a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all UK firms this winter, including farming businesses. It was designed to cushion businesses from volatile energy markets for six months, from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023.
It means bills will be cut by around half their expected level this winter, with support applying to fixed contracts agreed on or after 1 April 2022, as well as to deemed variable and flexible tariffs and contracts.