Floods to cost Scottish farmers millions in crop losses

Severe flooding of farmland across Scotland has left farmers facing a bill running into millions of pounds, NFU Scotland has said.

Extreme rainfall over a 48-hour period over the weekend caused “unprecedented damage” to farmland, crops and infrastructure, particularly in northern and western parts of Scotland, said the union.

Martin Kennedy, president of NFU Scotland (NFUS), said millions of pounds worth of crops were still in the ground and the extent of the damage will not be known until floodwaters recede.

See also: Q&A: What are your rights when farmland is flooded?

However, farmers in western/northern Scotland are braced for further flooding after the Met Office issued a yellow warning for rain on Tuesday 10 October.

Significant areas of grassland, arable ground and high-value crops – such as potatoes, broccoli and turnips – are under water, and the loss of fodder and bedding to flooding are clear indicators of the “unprecedented scale” of damage in some parts, NFUS said.

‘Like Niagara Falls’

Mr Kennedy posted a video on his Facebook page on Saturday 7 October of rocks crashing down a burn near his hill farm in Perthshire, which he likened to Niagara Falls.

The farm leader met fellow farmers and local MSP John Swinney at a flood-hit farm in Tayside on Monday morning (9 October) to discuss the impact of the damage.

Stewarts of Tayside, a major grower of root vegetables and soft fruit, based near Perth, estimates about 60ha of food crops destined for supermarkets may have been ruined.

Amy Geddes, of Wester Braikie Farms, near Arbroath, Angus, said her farm had received 103mm of rainfall and a lot of high-value potato crops, veg crops and autumn-sown crops were under water.

“We have not been as badly affected as some farmers in the West. We are a little higher up, but the damage to lower lying fields is apparent,” she said. 

Ms Geddes said some farms in her region still had spring barley crops to combine and unbaled straw, which could all be lost.

“It is such a nightmare after a difficult harvest – another kick in the teeth,” she added.

NFUS has called for Scottish government to consider short-term support for affected farmers. Longer term, it says discussions must be held to ensure farmers receive a realistic margin from the supply chain that builds enough of a buffer for farmers to absorb the impact of extreme weather events.

“While some losses may be insurable, many will not, and it is likely that farmers will be left with a bill for millions when the mop-up is finally completed,” said Mr Kennedy.

Insurance claims

Rural insurer NFU Mutual told Farmers Weekly it was dealing with claims for outbuildings and other properties, and with more rain forecast, it expects to see the number of claims increase.

Scottish government rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “The rainfall we have seen over Scotland this weekend has been extreme, affecting many communities and businesses.

“We are engaging with the sector to determine how much they have been affected and what the implications of that are.

“Once we have the full picture, we will explore what can be done to help those affected.”

  • Farmers or crofters who are struggling with the impact of flooding can also receive help 24/7 from Rsabi through its helpline 0808 1234 555 or live webchat via the Rsabi website.
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