DEFRA offers further help to flood-hit farms

The government has announced proposals to buy flood-hit farmland from Cumbria farmers whose fields were devastated by record rainfalls last November.

The proposal was the most drastic in a range of options aimed at helping farmers to recover from the flooding which saw 330mm of rain fall in 24 hours on 19 November 2009.

A DEFRA spokeswoman said the government would consider, in extreme cases, the purchase of small parcels of land which could not be restored to any farming use.

“This will be on a case-by-case basis. It may simply not be possible to manage some of that land for the public good unless related matters, such as access, can be resolved,” the spokeswoman said.

DEFRA also announced that it would provide farms with three to five days of qualified farm advice or land agent advice. An official would be assigned to each farm to assess whether grants from the Rural Development Programme for England could be made available for those worst-affected.

“In addition, for farmers for who debris removal is not practicable or affordable even with the RDPE grant, Natural England will work alongside farmers on the possibility of individually tailored agri-environment agreements,” she said.

This extra help is in addition to the grants of up to £6,800 for each holding which were announced in December.

Junior DEFRA minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:

“Farming is an important part of what makes Cumbria special, which is why we acted quickly after the floods to help farmers start to get their fields back into use.

“We’ve continued to work with local groups and we’re now able to offer additional, individually-tailored assistance to farmers to help with the long-term recovery.”

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