8 November 2000
Floods threaten grain shortage

By Isabel Davies

LOSSES from Britains floods could total hundreds of millions of Pounds and create a dramatic fall in next years harvest, claim farmers.

Large areas of crops in the ground were destroyed by flooding and waterlogging, claims a “dossier of chaos” compiled by the National Farmers Union.

Heavy rainfall over the past fortnight has delayed the sowing of winter cereal crops, with only around 70% of expected plantings completed, it says.

Ben Gill, NFU president said fuller details of the impact the floods have had on farmers will be handed to agriculture minister Nick Brown next week.

“It is clear that damage and consequential losses will run into hundreds of millions of pounds,” said Mr Gill.

“We intend to give as clear a picture as possible to the Minister so that he can begin to consider what other practical steps can be taken to assist farmers.”

Coming on top of the bad weather earlier this month, farmers are beginning to feel their problems are insurmountable, Mr Gill added.

Between 25-50% of the potato crop remains un-harvested because of waterlogged ground, with problems particularly severe in north-east England.

Sugar beet harvesting has also been significantly delayed with major problems in maintaining delivery schedules to processing factories.

Waterlogged conditions are delaying the maize harvest even further, causing difficulties for livestock farmers who use it as feed.

About 90% of farmland near arterial rivers in south-east was under water at the height of the floods and up to 70% of winter crops have been lost.

In other areas, farmers have had to move sheep and cattle to higher ground, with some cattle having to be housed indoors, using up winter feed stocks.

Dairy cattle are also having to be housed because of the weather.