UK

Flooding causing ‘destruction and financial stress’ to farmers, warns union

The National Farmers’ Union said ‘repeated governments of all parties had failed to get to grips with the challenge of managing watercourses and flooding’ (David Young/PA)
The National Farmers’ Union said ‘repeated governments of all parties had failed to get to grips with the challenge of managing watercourses and flooding’ (David Young/PA) The National Farmers’ Union said ‘repeated governments of all parties had failed to get to grips with the challenge of managing watercourses and flooding’ (David Young/PA)

Flooding is causing “destruction and financial stress” to farmers’ businesses and their homes, a major farming organisation has warned.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said it was calling on all political parties to set out their plans to protect farmland “from flooding which puts the country’s food security at risk”, following the “devastation caused by Storm Babet”.

The NFU has written an open letter calling on the Environment Agency to “deliver a proactive plan for the watercourses and flood defences it manages” and for the Government to “pay farmers and growers fairly” for the role they play “in protecting homes and businesses when rivers breach their banks”.

Autumn weather
Autumn weather Flooded fields in Powys in Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

The letter also calls for changes to the Flood Defence Grant to ensure that “rural communities are not disadvantaged by the nature of smaller populations in comparison to urban communities”.

NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said: “Despite promises made during each catastrophic flooding event, repeated governments of all parties have failed to get to grips with the challenge of managing watercourses and flooding.

“With another storm forecast this week, we need to see plans come forward as a matter of urgency.”

He added: “I have been out to meet NFU members and have seen first-hand the destruction and financial stress caused by flooding to farmers’ businesses and their homes.”

David Armstrong, a farmer in Lincolnshire, said that some of his farm’s winter linseed and wheat crops had been “left underwater” by recent flooding.

The 62-year-old told the PA news agency that he now faced an effort to “preserve what crop we’ve got and redrill the areas which have been flooded”.

He said he thought that “we’re not as well prepared now as we’ve been in the past” for flooding and other extreme weather events, adding that there needed to be a “lot better maintenance” of rivers and watercourses.

The NFU represents more than 46,000 farming and growing businesses in England and Wales.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been approached for comment.