Farmers are being told to increase their security measures and turn their farmyards into fortresses amid rising fuel and fertiliser costs.
Rural insurer NFU Mutual says police are already reporting fuel thefts from farms across the UK and the record price rises, along with shortages, could result in farm fuel tanks and fertiliser stores being targeted by thieves.
It is urging farmers to upgrade their security measures and check their insurance cover if they are planning to install bigger fuel tanks due to fears of shortages and higher prices at harvest.
“Together the price rises and shortages are threatening future food supplies – but making stored fuel and fertiliser a major temptation for thieves at the same time,” said NFU Mutual’s rural affairs specialist, Rebecca Davidson.
“Police across the UK are reporting an increase in thefts from fuel tanks. Because of this, we are urging farmers to review security measures in their farmyards and make plans to reduce the risk of diesel being taken, when tractors and combines are left out in the fields.”
She said although fertiliser thefts have been rare in the past, a four-fold increase in prices for the product along with a shortage of supplies mean they are now being targeted by criminals.
“The huge swing in prices makes it possible that thieves will be on the lookout for stored fertiliser and may even try to use farms’ own machinery to load it up to lorries,” added Ms Davidson.
NFU Mutual advice for protecting fertiliser stores, which have not usually required security in the past, includes keeping field and farmyard gates closed and locked, and to block exit points that aren’t used.
Farmers are urged to consider installing and using intruder alarm systems, security lighting and CCTV, and to keep fertiliser stocks out of sight and in locked buildings with plenty of ventilation to reduce fire risks.
“Every farm is different, and needs security measures appropriate to its location, layout and operation – but with normal trading hugely disrupted, everyone needs to up their game to reduce the risk of losing valuable supplies to criminals,” added Ms Davidson.