MPs demand support for farmers hit by flooding - Fruit & Vine

MPs demand support for farmers hit by flooding

MPs are calling on the government to invest in new schemes to support farmers in delivering natural flood defences, restoring woodland, and creating new natural flooding preventions.

Sarah Dyke MP speaks to farmers about flooding and government supporting them more
Sarah Dyke MP speaks with a farmer. Image credit: Liberal Democrats

A number of MPs are calling on the government to do more for farmers whose land has flooded.

Five Liberal Democrat MPs signed a letter for the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The letter calls on the Government to raise the Environmental Land Management (ELM) budget by £1 billion.

Helen Morgan MP and Tim Farron MP co-wrote the letter, which outlines why ‘the Government should recognise the public good farmers deliver’.

Realities of flooding

Wendy Chamberlain MP, Sarah Dyke MP and Richard Foord MP have also signed the letter.

It read: ‘Farmers across the country have suffered record levels of flooding this winter.

‘We are astounded that many are not eligible for the Farming Recovery Fund because it is only available to farmers whose land is covered by the Flood Recovery Framework – a scheme where Local Authorities must demonstrate a minimum of 50 properties have been flooded.

‘This effectively excludes rural areas, where extensive flooding takes place across vast stretches of sparsely inhabited land.

MPs call on the government to support farmers who have been affected by flooding
MPs have signed a letter calling on the government to support farmers. Image credit: Liberal Democrats

‘Similarly, because the Framework is only activated after a severe weather event, it does not acknowledge that much of the flooding on farmland is caused by prolonged rainfall rather than high flows during specific storms.

‘The Farming Recovery Fund fails to understand the realities of flooding for farmers, leaving many across the country without support.”

Raise the budget

The letter continued: ‘British farmers use their land to benefit all of us.

‘From growing 60% of our national food supply, to storing flood water to protect houses and businesses further downstream, farmers are crucial to managing flooding and food security in the UK.

‘The Government should recognise the public good farmers deliver by immediately raising the ELM budget by £1 billion, so that farmers are provided with the support they need to transition to  environmentally sustainable farming.

‘This must include recognition of the role that farmers play in accepting and managing flood water, whether from rivers that have burst their banks, or from prolonged rainfall stored in the upper catchment.’

Risky business

Sarah Dyke, MP for Somerton and Frome, also spoke in Parliament about the issue.

She told the House of Commons about a constituent who farms near Langport.

His farm was flooded for almost six months over winter, costing him thousands in lost crops.

It’s also limited his ability to graze cattle on the land in the summer months.

She said: “It’s not this year but next that he’ll feel the financial impact of the winter flooding.

“He understands farming land must sometimes be sacrificed in order to save thousands of homes further down the river catchment.

“But he should be able to realise compensation as a consequence; the alternative will be to risk losing his business.

“He told me that following the end of basic payments and the limited options available within the sustainable farming incentive scheme, the farm is solely dependent on income from agriculture to cover the lost earnings due to flooding.”

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