NFU urges next government to develop new flood plans

The rainfall the UK has experienced 'underlines the vulnerability' of farming businesses
The rainfall the UK has experienced 'underlines the vulnerability' of farming businesses

As the prolonged wet weather and flooding continues to impact farmers, the NFU is urging the next government to develop new plans to mitigate future flood risk and better manage water.

As of Friday morning (15 November), there are no longer any severe flood alerts in place, but 117 warnings and 157 alerts still remain.

This week's floods have left prime farmland badly affect, and thousands of acres remain under water.

The Met Office says the United Kingdom received 109% (138.8 mm) of its average rainfall in October.

The prolonged wet weather has impacted many farmers and growers who are unable to finish harvesting crops, such as maize and potatoes, and expect a severe delay in drilling and sowing winter cereals.

Sugar beet farmers are unable to get machinery onto the wet ground to lift sugar beet, while other farmers are being forced to bring in livestock earlier than normal, which means higher costs on farm for feed and bedding.

The NFU said the rainfall the country has experienced in the past few months 'underlines the vulnerability' of farming businesses.

It said such weather events impacts farmers' ability to produce food and affects livelihoods, ultimately resulting in an 'impact on their bottom line'.

The union's president Minette Batters: “It’s why the next government and its agencies need to take water-related issues seriously.

“Some of our most productive and highest value agricultural land is vulnerable to flooding and deserves to be protected.

“Any future domestic agricultural policy must ensure there are measures in place for farm businesses to manage volatility, particularly in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather.

“We also want to see adequate funding available to enable us to have the right resources to take on the enormous challenge and opportunities of future UK water management.”

The UK has £20bn of flood defence assets, but the NFU says maintenance funding is 'too little' and needs to be increased.

Mrs Batters added: “We also need to take full advantage of measures to maintain the conveyance and capacity of our rivers while at the same time seeking a more active role for some farms to trap, store and slow water.

“Farmers providing flood management services should be properly rewarded where they are a cost-efficient solution.”

The union says it will work with the future government to ensure it takes necessary steps to protect productive farmland so farmers can continue to produce.