It follows the recent devastation caused by Storms Babet and Ciarán which left vast areas of productive farmland under water and many farmers and growers struggling to get crops out of the ground for this season. Many are still unable to plant autumn crops for next year.
Of the 1,750 farmers and growers who signed the NFU’s open letter, around 1,000 said they had been directly impacted by flooding.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “In the past few weeks we have once more seen hundreds of farms across the country face the devastation of flooding and the huge financial stress and misery that brings.
“It stems from a failure to get to grips with the challenges of managing watercourses and improving and maintaining our flood defences. Many farmers play a crucial role protecting nearby towns and villages from flooding by holding water on their land but with ruined crops uninsurable and huge clear up costs, farmers and growers must be fairly rewarded for this public good they provide.
“With climate change one of our biggest challenges, it’s inevitable that storms will become more frequent and heavy rainfall will become more prevalent. That’s why we need to see urgent action to tackle this issue.
“Our open letter to the three main political parties, signed by more than 1,750 people, calls on the government of the day to recognise the public goods farmers deliver and pay them fairly for the vital role they play in protecting nearby towns and villages when rivers breach their banks. It also calls on the Environment Agency to deliver a proactive plan of management and re-investment in the watercourses and flood defences it is responsible for, to ensure these protect the communities and businesses they were originally intended to defend.
“We need to see political parties deliver solutions to mitigate the impact of flooding of farmland to ensure our farmers and growers can continue producing food for the nation.”
Notes to editor:
- The NFU open letter has been sent to Defra Secretary of State, Steve Barclay, Shadow Secretary of State, Steve Reed, and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Tim Farron. It calls for:
- A proactive management plan for Environment Agency controlled watercourses and flood defences as a priority.
- Changes to the Flood Defence Grant in Aid cost-benefit analysis. The way that funding for flood defences is currently allocated leaves farmers and rural communities at a higher risk than urban communities.
- Recognition of the public goods farmers deliver. Flood storage is often provided at great cost to the landowner to protect surrounding urban areas. Farmers must be fairly paid for delivering this service with agreements put in place that allow farmers and growers to plan for it and ensure recovery procedures are in place.