An increased ability for farmers to deal with droughts and flooding including tax breaks for building reservoirs, greater investment in flood management budgets, guidelines that make it easier for farmers to undertake maintenance and proper valuation of agricultural land are the areas that the NFU has called on government and the EA to act.
NFU Deputy President, Meurig Raymond said: “2012 was one of the most difficult years for farmers in living memory. First drought then flooding had a major impact on farmers ability to grow our food. And with the Met office predicting further extreme weather events in the future, we do need to act to ensure farm businesses can become more resilient to climate change.
“We were pleased to see the comments made by Environment Agency chairman, Lord Chris Smith, but we need to see action to back the rhetoric. The NFU has recently carried out its own review of the 2010-12 drought, and top of our list of lessons learned is the need for farmers to increase resilience to future droughts by building more reservoirs.
“If we are serious about national food security, then we must build more secure access to the water needed to grow our food. But in order to build more reservoirs we must remove some of the barriers that prevent farmers from getting on with it, particularly planning rules that make it difficult for some farmers to build storage. We would also like to see a tax relief on the major investment needed when building reservoirs.
“On flooding, we understand that currently only £20million of the Environment Agency’s budget is spent on river channel maintenance per year, which sounds like a lot but in reality is not nearly enough to prevent a repeat of the widescale flooding that brought misery to farmers and others the country over.“So we are calling for greater public investment in flood management maintenance budgets, guidelines that make it easier for farmers to undertake their own maintenance of watercourses and proper valuation of agricultural land to reflect its importance for food production now and in the future.”