Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has visited NFU members and staff on the Nottinghamshire/ Lincolnshire border to hear about the impact of the devastating floods on East Midlands farmers.
Ms Villiers saw and heard first-hand accounts of the havoc wreaked on flood-hit farmers by water swamping their land at such a crucial time in the farming calendar.
The visit came as the Environment Agency’s director of flood risk management warned, “”I do sound alarmed because we are in the middle of November and everywhere is saturated. All the flood storage areas are full. We have to be really vigilant because what I don’t want is that horrendous 900 number [of flooded properties] to become a 10, 15, 20,000 number.”
The British Growers Association has said that the Lincolnshire brassica harvest is around 60 per cent of average due to the weather. Jack Ward, the BGA chief executive, said, “The conditions underfoot are seriously wet so moving around is incredibly difficult. The actual rate of harvesting is much slower so there is less product available and there is evidence to suggest cauliflowers are running short.”
After the meeting at Clare Leggott’s farm, Stuart Roberts visited other farms in Lincolnshire impacted by the flooding. He added: “It’s not often that I’m lost for words but what I saw was unbelievable. The water goes on as far as the eye can see – it’s just completely devastating.”
NFU President Minette Batters said, “The next government and its agencies need to take water-related issues seriously. Some of our most productive and highest value agricultural land is vulnerable to flooding and deserves to be protected.” The Farming Recovery Fund has been extended to support farmers badly affected by the flooding across Yorkshire and the Midlands, allowing them to apply for grants of up to £25,000 for repairs.
Photo caption: Theresa Villiers viewing flood damage on the Notts/Lincs border
Photo source: NFU