Farmers fear for feed as floods batter Britain

FLOODS have once again devastated rural communities up and down the country.

Although the storms have abated, the clean-up operation is still under way after widespread rain swamped farmland and caused chaos for hundreds of rural businesses.

NFU Mutual’s chief claims manager Matthew Scott said: “We have already received about 500 weather-related claims from across the UK and expect more to come in over the next few days.

“Although it is too early to put an accurate figure on the cost of claims, we could be looking at a total bill of up to £20 million for NFU Mutual alone.”

In England, the South West, South East, North East and the Midlands were battered with excessive rain for several days and at one point the Environment Agency (EA) had 193 flood warnings in place.

The South West of Scotland, Lothian and the Borders were also hard hit.

Heavy rain in North Wales led the EA to issue two severe flood warnings – indicating danger to life – on the River Elwy, while the Jones Peckover-run auction market in St Asaph was closed due to flooding.  

Auctioneer John Brereton said the whole building was deluged on Monday night, forcing closure, but he was hoping the market would open as normal tomorrow (Saturday).

On Wednesday the body of an elderly woman was discovered in a flooded house in the area.

The dire situation also led Natural England to temporarily lift some of the land management requirements which normally apply under Environmental Stewardship options, enabling farmers and growers more flexibility to deal with the impact of the wet weather. 

It has been another blow for UK farming and compounded an already disappointing year for many arable and livestock producers.

NFU Mutual said as well as calls about flood damage to vehicles, farm buildings and farm equipment, it was also dealing with claims for stored crops which had been decimated by flooding.

This week agronomists from HGCA predicted a ‘significant’ decline in cereals and oilseeds next year, following a farmer survey on winter planting decisions.

Heavy rain and poor soil conditions are thought to be behind growers’ decisions, according to AHDB/HGCA’s Early Bird Survey of cropping intentions.

Met Office forecaster Eddy Carroll said attention was now turning to frost and fog as northerly winds forced a sharp drop in temperatures.

“People should be aware of the increasing risk of overnight frost, ice and freezing fog patches as the week wears on,” said Mr Carroll.

  • Farmers and land managers can get advice about Environmental Stewardship agreements and available derogations either through their Natural England adviser or on 0300 060 0011.

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