JUST WHEN we thought we’d seen off the second wettest year on record came the news that 2012 had left its legacy in the form of less nutritious vegetables and fruit.

The heavy rain is being blamed for a reduced mineral content in many of our crops because the deluge leached them of their natural chemicals. Plants can’t manufacture minerals, so if there are less of them in the soil, so too will there be fewer in the crop.

We not only experienced extreme wet weather here in Pembrokeshire, but I can’t recall the sun actually shining on very many days either, apart from that glorious week of the Royal Welsh Show when Wales basked in it for the entire week.

The sun’s reluctance to put in all but the briefest of appearances has reduced the nutritional value of some edible plants too.

I had noticed that some fruit and vegetables tasted differently, apart from the strawberries I picked at the Mencap Gardens here at Stackpole, which were deliciously sweeter than usual.

It doesn’t take a scientist to tell farmers that the weather has influenced food quality; it is all too apparent in the poor productivity of their livestock.

Abysmal silage quality has reduced milk yields and challenged beef and lamb producers to grow their stock.

Perhaps it might be an opportune moment for consumers to consider this as they contemplate the nutritional content of their own fresh food intakes.

The dreadful summer has put pressure on livestock businesses, and in order to secure the viability of this sector for the long term, the supply chain must respond by paying more to primary producers.

The knock-on effects will go into the next harvest because crops were so late being planted, if at all.

We still have a way to go for the prices paid to farmers to reflect the long hours, high costs and capital needed to make a decent, honest return for their efforts.

By Debbie James