Defra has finally agreed to pay Somerset farmer James Winslade his flood grant money after Farmers Weekly highlighted his case.
In a letter sent to Mr Winslade last Friday (26 September), Defra confirmed he would be paid the maximum £5,000 he claimed in the first round of the government’s £10m Farming Recovery Fund “in the next two weeks”.
Beef producer Mr Winslade applied for the grant in April to cover £11,000 worth of grass seed he bought to reseed fields at West Yeo Farm and Newhouse Farm in Moorland on the Somerset Levels.
About 810 of the total 840 acres on both farms suffered extensive flooding in the winter floods in January. Floodwaters ranged from one-foot deep, right up to 12ft deep in some areas.
Shocking images of Mr Winslade wading through floodwater on his farm to reach cows in sheds were broadcast around the world.
To support his grant application, he sent Defra Ordnance Survey maps and single farm payment maps of his fields to explain which field had been flooded and needed reseeding.
Defra also requested photographic evidence to support claims his farmland was inundated. Therefore, he sent an aerial image, which showed both of his farms, including houses and farm buildings, almost completely under water.
However, Defra told him the photographic evidence he provided was not good enough.
“They said I hadn’t provided enough photographic evidence that I had been flooded,” said Mr Winslade.
“They asked for additional pictures, so I said they could choose from more than 190 pictures by doing a quick Google search on the internet. It was absolutely ridiculous.”
He submitted his receipts for the grass seed on 4 August.
A Defra spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Winslade would be paid next week. She said he had not been paid earlier because he “did not provide maps of where the work was to be carried out or evidence that they [the fields] had been flooded”.