The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has released further funds from its crisis fund to help those affected by the latest flooding.
It is the second time in a month that emergency funds have been released via its helpline, 0808 281 9490. Since mid-October, the organisation has also given emergency grants to 15 families affected by Tomlinson’s Dairies going into administration – and applications are still being received.
Sustained wet weather has put a strain on many rural communities, particularly in the north of England and Midlands. As of yesterday (11th November), there were five severe flood warnings across the UK – all associated with the River Don – in addition to 39 flood warnings and 99 flood alerts.
RABI CEO Alicia Chivers said: “We are working closely with other farming organisations to make help available quickly to people who need it. By simplifying our criteria and application process, we will fast-track assistance to farmers affected by the latest floods.
“Having provided over £25,000 in emergency grants due to the flooding in Yorkshire, we know how devastating the impact of extreme weather can be for farmers.”
NFU is urging the next government and its agencies to develop long-term strategies to mitigate future flood risks, as farmers are reporting the worst rainfall in living memory – particularly in the East Midlands and north east of England. Prime farmland has been badly affected, with thousands of acres under water.
Prolonged wet weather has meant many farmers and growers have been unable to finish harvesting crops such as maize and potatoes, and are expecting severe delays in drilling and sowing winter cereal crops. Meanwhile sugar beet farmers are unable to get machinery onto wet ground to lift sugar beet, and livestock farmers are being forced to bring animals in weeks earlier than usual, resulting in higher costs for feed and bedding.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “The rainfall that some parts of the country have been experiencing over the past few months underlines the vulnerability of farming businesses, the fragility of returns to farmers, their exposure to volatility and ultimately resulting in an impact on their bottom line.
“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 yet too little is being spent on upkeep – this spending must be increased.”
She added that we are starting to see breaches of flood embankments, such as the recent incident at Wainfleet in Lincolnshire, which must be looked at urgently.