More than 1,750 producers have signed the NFU’s open letter urging political parties to take steps to protect farming businesses from flooding
An open letter signed by more than 1,750 farmers and growers has been sent by the NFU to the three main political parties urging them to immediately outline their plans to protect farming businesses from flooding.
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 that 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.”
He added that it is “inevitable” that storms will become more frequent and heavy rainfall will become more prevalent as climate change continues. “That’s why we need to see urgent action to tackle this issue.”
The open letter 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”.