NFU secures greater support for farm businesses after period of record wet weather

NFU President Tom Bradshaw CREDIT NFU

NFU President Tom Bradshaw welcomed Defra’s latest measures

Image: NFU

Westminster has responded to NFU lobbying and announced greater government support to farm businesses hit by this year’s heavy rain and  flooding, the farmers’ union reports.

Defra last Friday (24 May) revealed that it would widen the scope of the Farm Recovery Fund (FRF), and unveiled several measures designed to improve on-farm cash flow – all of which the NFU had called for.

Among the measures announced on Friday, Defra said that the FRF is no longer limited to farms within 150 metres of certain rivers.

The department of agriculture told the NFU it would write to affected businesses in areas that have experienced exceptional levels of rainfall and outline what they are entitled to.

Payment rates will be in bands related to size, with the minimum being £2,895 up to £25,000 at the top end. There will be no need for the business to prove entitlement as it will be based on the data analysis Defra has done, the NFU said.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Defra Secretary of State Steve Barclay also said the NFU’s proposals for government-backed loans merit detailed consideration.

These loans would help with cashflow, support farm business resilience and bolster longer-term investment across UK farming, the NFU said.

Commenting on Defra’s latest measures, NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “After months of discussions, it’s really good news that the government has listened to our calls for additional financial support for farm businesses.

“Against the backdrop of some of the most challenging commercial and weather conditions in living memory, which has resulted in plummeting business confidence, these measures will provide some critical relief to many member businesses which have been facing a very uncertain future because of exceptional cashflow pressures.”

Bradshaw added: “I’m particularly pleased that the Secretary of State is supporting serious consideration of our proposed loans. While we understand any decision will be delayed due to the general election, we will continue to work with the future government on this proposal as we know how beneficial it would be in stabilising cashflow, building resilience and enabling investment, all of which are crucial to our national food security.”

Defra’s measures come after the wettest 18 months in England since 1836, which have left vast swathes of agricultural land saturated and, in many cases, still under water.

Many arable farmers have been unable to plant crops and have lost those that were in the ground, while livestock farmers have endured an incredibly difficult lambing season, the NFU said.

A recent NFU survey highlighted the toll this has taken on farm business confidence, which has hit an all-time low across England and Wales.

Bradshaw continued: “The measures announced [on Friday] will not solve all the issues we’re facing on farm, but I am confident they will go some way to lifting some of the immediate strain on family farms and help farmers and growers to get back to doing what they do best – producing high quality, sustainable food for the British people.”