Grants of up to £25,000 for farmers hit by Storm Henk floods as crisis continues

Farmers are to receive grants of up to £25,000 to restore land hit by flooding, the Government has said, as the industry warns of a “crisis” caused by severe weather.

Farmers said heavy rain battering the country since October 2023 has left agricultural land saturated, and often still under water, with arable farmers unable to plant spring crops and losing winter planting.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) warned that the rain, combined with unseasonable low spring temperatures, is also hitting livestock farmers, with a “bleak attrition rate” for lambs born this spring.

NFU vice president Rachel Hallos said a crisis is building in the farming sector, with bad weather adding to soaring costs of inputs such as fertiliser, and warned consumers could see the effects because produce “simply doesn’t leave the farm gate”.

She welcomed the launch of the Farming Recovery Fund, which aims to support farmers who suffered “uninsurable damage” to their land from severe flooding earlier this year.

Grants of between £500 and £25,000 will initially be open to farmers in areas where a wider support scheme known as the “flood recovery framework” has been activated, to help farms which have experienced the highest levels of flooding, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

These are Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Eligibility for funding in Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire is under review, Defra added.

Eligible farmers are being contacted directly by the Rural Payments Agency, outlining the support available and how they can make a claim.

It comes as parts of the UK are being hit by more flooding caused by heavy rain and strong winds.

The latest bad weather is forecast to continue battering parts of southern England, western Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland over the next few days.

“The Farming Recovery Fund will support farmers who suffered uninsurable damage with grants of up to £25,000, and sits alongside broader support in our farming schemes to improve flood resilience.”

Ms Hallos said: “People should be in no doubt about the immense pressure UK farm businesses are under thanks to this unprecedented and constant rain. It’s no exaggeration to say a crisis is building.

“While farmers are bearing the brunt of it now, consumers may well see the effects through the year as produce simply doesn’t leave the farm gate.

“Combined with input costs which have been soaring for two years, the awful impact of this extreme weather on farmers cannot be over-estimated.”

She said she has “real worries” not just for the financial situation of many NFU members, but the effect it is having on them personally, and warned it is “also a growing issue for UK food security”.

“The recovery fund is very welcome against this background. Defra ministers who have driven this forward will have the thanks of many of our members for whom it will be a lifeline.

“I’m also very pleased that ministers have taken the decision to keep eligibility for the fund open for others affected,” she said.

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