With Storm Babet leaving vast areas of farmland underwater, the senior NFU officeholder met county farmers and growers and said the government needed to match its talk about the importance of UK food security with action on water management.
The Deputy President was with farmers in Newark where he spoke about the impact of the floods with those on the Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board and then travelled across the county border to see the impact first-hand at Bardney, near Lincoln.
Earlier in the day he had been in Doncaster in South Yorkshire to speak with farmers hit by severe downpours.
‘We need to see action’
Speaking directly from NFU member and cereal farmer David Armstrong’s farm at Bardney, Tom said the devastation he has witnessed following Storm Babet “cannot be underestimated”.
“The first farm I visited has been underwater four times in the past five years and behind me you can see hundreds of acres of the most fertile land in the country which is now flooded,” he said.
Tom toured the flood zone with Leadenham farmer Andrew Ward, NFU Lincolnshire Council representative, and Rhonda Thompson, NFU Lincolnshire county adviser.
After meeting Mr Armstrong at Bardney they then travelled to Bucknall to see land owned by Henry Moreton, NFU county vice chairman, whose fields and environmental stewardship areas are underwater.
The group also met up with Henry Ward at Short Ferry whose business has also been severely hit by Storm Babet.
“For these members, the financial pressure is incredibly real after a very difficult 2023 harvest and now an awful beginning to the 2024 harvest – we need to see action.”
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw
The visit follows renewed calls from the NFU earlier in the week for the government to urgently implement a comprehensive water management strategy, giving farmers and growers a central role in the better management of land to improve water quality and better management of water to help tackle both floods and droughts.
“We’ve heard before that the government are listening and that they will take action. But for these members, the financial pressure is incredibly real after a very difficult 2023 harvest and now an awful beginning to the 2024 harvest – we need to see action,” Tom added.
The Deputy President also called on the government to turn words on the importance of food security into action: “The river network behind me here is part of our national infrastructure which is the foundation stone of our food production. It must be managed to enable us to deliver that food security for the country.
“We want to work with government and the Environment Agency to make sure that the situations we see behind us don’t continue to happen and the impacts on our members’ businesses are minimised.”