13 October 2000
Farmers count cost of floods
By FWi staff
FARMERS in the south-east of England are counting the cost after some of the worst flooding in decades.
Three days of heavy rains have left homes, shops and hundreds of acres of farmland in Kent and East Sussex under water.
While water levels are now slowly falling and the threat of further heavy rains has receded, severe flood warnings remain in place.
The Environment Agency has issued 16 severe warnings – alerts of an imminent threat to life and property – 21 flood warnings and 39 flood watches.
A spokesman said all of eastern Sussex and all of Kent was under some form of flood warning.
People had to be evacuated from their homes in Lewes and Uckfield, and it is estimated that the insurance bill could top 4 billion.
East Sussex beef and arable Michael Fordham told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme the effects would be felt next harvest.
But although he faced lower yields with delays in planting, he said he was glad he had not drilled already and lost the seed to the waters.
He said neighbours who were hoping to lift potatoes now found them under eight feet of water.
In Kent Jonathan Tipples, chairman of the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, was facing delays in winter wheat planting.
With 270 acres left to plant, Mr Tipples said he was looking at least a week before he could get on to the land.
“Were looking at less yield every week it goes by now, a drop in yield of 200 hundredweight to the acre,” he told Farming Today.
“Thats just the sheer physical fact of wheat going into the ground later in the autumn; it just doesnt yield as much.”