4 December 2000
Extra cash for flooding fields?

By FWi staff

FARMERS could be paid extra money for deliberately flooding their fields, a Government minister has revealed.

Junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley, who is responsible for floods and coastal defences, said this was being considered to reduce flooding risks.

Flood plains retain excess water, acting as a buffer to lessen the impact of floods elsewhere.

Heavy rains this autumn saw rivers rise to the highest for 400 years in what was the wettest season for three centuries.

Mr Morley told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today he “did not rule out as a principle” extra cash for producers managing flood plains for water retention.

“In areas where you could be flooding land deliberately more frequently, I think there is a case for compensation or some form of management agreement.”

The minister added that, where flood plains are a natural feature, agri-environment money could only be spent if it brought environmental gain.

Mr Morley said agri-environment schemes and area-based subsidies were trying to reduce overgrazing, which encourages run-off.

He suggested applying the codes of practice produced by MAFF to arable area payments, which include the air, water and soil code.

The National Farmers Union said flood damage to cereal crops this year could reach 300 million because yields may fall by five million tonnes, while lost potato crops total 50m.