Fund opens to support farmers affected by flooding

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The government has opened the Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers who suffered uninsurable damage to their land due to flooding this winter.

Under the scheme, eligible farmers can access grants of between £500 and £25,000 to return their land to the condition it was in before exceptional flooding due to Storm Henk.

Eligible farmers are being contacted directly by Rural Payments Agency (RPA) outlining the support available to them through the Farming Recovery Fund and how they can make a claim.

The fund forms part of a broader scheme called the Flood Recovery Framework which is activated in exceptional circumstances to support councils and communities following severe flooding.

The fund will initially be open in those local authority areas where the Flood Recovery Framework has already been activated to help farms that have experienced the highest levels of flooding. These are Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

Eligibility for the fund will remain under review by Defra to ensure it is supporting areas where farmland is most impacted. The further counties under review are Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire.

Farming Minster Mark Spencer said: “I know how difficult this winter has been for farmers, with extreme weather such as Storm Henk having a devastating impact on both cropping and grazing, as well as damaging property and equipment.

“The Farming Recovery Fund will support farmers who suffered uninsurable damage with grants of up to £25,000, and sits alongside broader support in our farming schemes to improve flood resilience.”

In January, the government announced its intention to open the fund and have consulted with stakeholders and developed an eligibility criteria. This analysis has identified fields that are eligible. This means the RPA can write to eligible farmers directly to invite them to claim and will allow payments to be made more quickly once a claim has been received.

Farmers are already eligible for support through the Flood Recovery Framework, including a grant of up to £2,500 as part of the Business Recovery Grant.

The last year has seen exceptionally heavy rainfall across the UK, with 2023 named by the Met Office as the 6th wettest year since its records began in 1836.

Since 2015, the government has protected over 900,000 acres of agricultural land from the impacts of flooding and are investing £5.6 billion to better protect hundreds of thousands of properties in communities, including many in rural areas.

The NFU welcomed the news, something it has been pressing for. NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos said: “People should be in no doubt about the immense pressure UK farm businesses are under thanks to this unprecedented and constant rain. It’s no exaggeration to say a crisis is building. While farmers are bearing the brunt of it now, consumers may well see the effects through the year as produce simply doesn’t leave the farm gate.

“Combined with input costs which have been soaring for two years, the awful impact of this extreme weather on farmers cannot be overestimated. I have real worries for not just the financial situation of many NFU members, but also the impact this is having on them personally.

“The Recovery Fund is very welcome against this background. Defra ministers who have driven this forward will have the thanks of many of our members for whom it will be a lifeline. I’m also very pleased that ministers have taken the decision to keep eligibility for the fund open for others affected.”

She added: “It’s very encouraging that ministers have been in listening mode on this and have acted on what is not only a terrible situation for farmers to be in, but also a growing issue for UK food security. This is a good start, and I hope Defra will remain open and flexible in recognising the other areas where help is urgently needed given the impact of this endless rain goes far beyond the impact of Storm Henk.”

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