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Welsh Government urged to provide grants to farmers affected by unprecedented rainfall

11 Apr 2024 4 minute read
A waterlogged crop field

Emily Price

Urgent calls have been made for the Welsh Government to provide financial support for farmers who have been affected by continued and unprecedented rainfall.

Wales has had one of the wettest months of March on record leading to crops going unplanted, silage running short and livestock being turned out onto sodden fields.

Autumn and winter saw successive named storms batter the country leading to flooding in some areas.

Farmers who were unable to plant certain crops in the winter have been waiting for a fair period in the spring to plant the same fields.

However the chances of this are looking slim with more rain expected and fields already waterlogged.

Farmers have raised fears about this year’s harvest as late-drilled spring crops can perform badly in yield and quality.  

Persistent wet weather in the spring can also have a devastating impact on lambing.

Storms

Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs Sam Kurtz says the poor winter is an example of why farm subsidy is so important and a “stark reminder” to the Welsh Government on the need to get the Sustainable Farming Scheme right.

He has pressed the Welsh Government to provide “dedicated financial support” for farmers in Wales to ensure domestic food production.

In a letter to Huw Irranca-Davies, Wales’ new Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Mr Kurtz said: “Im sure that you’re aware, farmers are currently facing almost unprecedented issues caused by the large amount of rainfall from successive storms this past winter.

“The inability to plant crops and a shortage of feed meaning livestock has been turned out onto wet land are just some of the issues facing Welsh farmers.

“Given the unprecedented challenges facing the sector at present due to the sustained rainfall I would urge the Welsh Government to support farmers who have been severely affected and their businesses impacted.”

On Tuesday (April 9) the UK Government announced that grants of between £500 and £25,000 would be paid to farmers hit by “uninsurable damage” from Storm Henk in early January.

The funding will help farmers restore land to the condition it was in before heavy flooding caused by Henk.

However, agricultural leaders have hit out at “major issues” with a fund.

NFU vice president Rachel Hallos said it had “very quickly become clear that there are major issues” with the grants.

She said: “We are hearing from numerous members who have suffered catastrophic impacts who have been told they are not eligible for the fund because some of their affected areas are more than 150 metres from ‘main’ rivers.

“These include members with 90% of their land saturated or underwater, and huge damage to buildings and equipment.”

Support

The grants are initially open to farmers in areas where a wider support scheme known as the “flood recovery framework” has been activated, to help farms which have experienced the highest levels of flooding, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

These are Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Eligibility for funding in Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire is under review.

The Welsh Government says it is currently monitoring the impact the wet weather is having on farming in Wales.

A spokesperson said: “Significant changes to our climate and weather will continue to develop over the next few decades, and it is essential that we take steps now to build resilience to the potential impacts of climate change.

“In 2023 Wales experienced one of the wettest years on record and, in July alone, we received close to 200% of the long-term average rainfall.

“We are currently monitoring the impact the wet weather may have on farmers in Wales, including through the UK wide Agriculture Market Monitoring Group.”


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Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

Perhaps the Welsh Government could give Welsh farmers money to grow more trees, a well known way of helping with flooding and waterlogging? Oh hang on come to think of it …

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Or even grants to pubs because the rainfall kept people at home.

James Wilson
James Wilson
1 month ago

Wonder if Sam Kurtz /Welsh Conservatives would also support giving fishermen impacted by the persistent stormy weather grants to cover losses too? Probably not because that’s one of the risks inherent in working in the natural environment

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