Poll: The cost of wet winter on farms

The winter of 2019-20 is heading to be one of the wettest on record since national records began, according to the Met Office.

Since last autumn, persistent spells of powerful storms and heavy rainfall have brought widespread flooding to farms. It follows a recent pattern of wet and mild, stormy winters in 2012-13 and 2015-16.

Large areas of UK farmland remain submerged, leaving farmers unable to drill spring crops and causing difficulties getting access to feed livestock.

See also: Josh Wright: Floods have me wishing I’d left seed in the shed

On social media platforms, farmers like Herefordshire grower Ally Hunter Blair have been posting stories and pictures showing widespread flood damage.

Relentless rain, including two storms in two weeks, has left many farms under water and the UK Farming Roundtable says the flooding situation is “unprecedented”.

The group, which comprises of the NFU, Country Land and Business Association, Tenant Farmers Association and others, has called on Defra to extend its Farming Recovery Fund to help flood-hit farmers cover any uninsurable losses.

Eustice statement

In a statement to parliament on Monday 25 February, Defra secretary George Eustice said: “We have had an incredibly wet winter. Some areas have already received almost double their average rainfall for February, with others experiencing a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours. Records have been broken.”

Mr Eustice said storms Ciara and Dennis had affected thousands of acres of farmland. But he would only confirm that the government “will consider the need to extend the Farming Recovery Fund, once we have all of the necessary data”.

 

In the coming years, experts say climate change will trigger an increased chance of milder, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers – with periods of very heavy rainfall becoming more common.

Farmers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding and they will have to adapt their businesses and adopt environmental management practices to meet these changes.

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