UK - A poignant video of a farming couple from the Somerset Levels coming to terms with being flooded last winter highlights why the Government must urgently invest to fill the £500m shortfall in the nation’s flood defence funding, the NFU has said.
Dairy farmers Brian and Mary Hutchings from Moorland were forced to evacuate their stock to neighbouring farms, as their farmhouse, fields and outbuildings were submerged for well over a month by floodwater. Now, with the help of groups of young farmers and the local community they’re bringing their home and business back to life.
The NFU says the video illustrates the plight of hundreds of producers across England and Wales who were flooded last winter.
Meanwhile, the Government has today published its response to a recent EFRA Committee report on the winter flooding of 2013/2014, in which the Committee agreed with the NFU’s concerns about investment in maintenance.
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “As we wrote in our Flooding Manifesto we need increased spending on action to reduce flooding. The Government must ensure it uses all the tools in the box whether that’s dredging, building and repairing banks, or cutting back vegetation downstream; or storing water and improving infiltration in the right places upstream. Our ability to produce food in the face of a more volatile climate depends on it.
“Providing flexibility for the Environment Agency to switch flood defence funds according to need between capital and maintenance activities would be another positive step forward. We must reverse the decline in the maintenance of our rivers, sea defences and pumps in all areas of the country.
“The NFU helped administer forage aid generously donated by farmers to those hit by the crisis in the South West, successfully lobbied the Government for a £10 million Farm Recovery Fund and effectively campaigned for dredging on the Somerset Levels and Moors. But there’s more to do. So for all those farmers like Brian and Mary who have seen their ability to earn a sustainable living taken away by unmanaged and uncompensated flooding, we want to see the Government act.”
TheCropSite News Desk