Following the devastation caused by Storms Babet and Ciarán last year, more than 1,750 people added their names to our open letter urging all political parties to outline their plans to protect farming businesses from flooding.
Our letter called 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.
The NFU delivered this message as a matter of urgency to Westminster to show that farmers demand immediate policy action and need a clear plan for the future to protect against flooding.
Deliver solutions for the future
The letter followed weeks of devasting flooding which left vast areas of farmland underwater.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw visited several affected farms in the North and Midlands, one of which has been left underwater four times in the past five years.
The NFU renewed its calls for the government to implement a comprehensive water management strategy as a matter of urgency.
“As we start 2024, many areas are continuing to experience flooding with thousands of acres of productive farmland still under water and many crops not going to survive the winter with the huge financial stress and misery that brings,” said Tom.
“With more than 100 flood warnings in place and more heavy rain forecast, the NFU will be monitoring the situation and supporting our members via our network of contacts in the Environment Agency and local authorities.
“This constant wet weather again highlights the need for government to recognise the strategic importance of domestic food production.”
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw
“This constant wet weather again highlights the need for government to recognise the strategic importance of domestic food production and urgently deliver solutions to mitigate the impact of flooding of farmland to ensure our farmers and growers can continue producing food for the nation.”
The Deputy President called on political parties to take urgent action now to ensure the success of long-term plans.
Following his appointment as Defra Secretary, Steve Barclay MP visited the farms of NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw and NFU Vice President David Exwood where flooding was a key topic of conversation.
In December, the NFU launched its manifesto ‘Farming for Britain’s Future’ which includes a dedicated policy document surrounding flooding including our key asks of an incoming government.
At the NFU’s winter reception, Shadow Defra Secretary Steve Reed MP reiterated Labour’s plans to set up a COBRA-style, flood resilience taskforce that would meet every winter to assess the flood risk to communities in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Storm Babet.
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw will be meeting with the Shadow Flooding Minister Emma Hardy MP, to discuss the ongoing impact of flooding on farming businesses across the country.