Farmers are warning of food price rises and a hit to their livelihoods from persistent flooding.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said she had met farmers who are concerned about harvesting crops such as potatoes and sugar beet because land is waterlogged.
“We don’t know how much crop is left in the ground,” said Batters, who farms cows and sheep in Wiltshire. “It’s hard to tell quite how much the cost and food implications will be [for farmers], but it’s significant.”
Since Storm Babet battered Britain in October, farms have faced difficult growing conditions. At new year, when Storm Henk hit, river levels in Lincolnshire broke records set in 2000.
Water on the ground is also affecting winter planting. Tom Bradshaw, the NFU deputy president who farms in Essex, said he had been unable to plant 10 per cent of his wheat, while another 20 per cent could have to be replanted. “The seed swells and explodes rather then germinating,” he said.
He warned of a “pretty bleak outlook” for the industry, which faces an issue as farms are on fixed-price contracts with supermarkets. “There’s a huge increase in costs because of lower productivity,” Bradshaw said.
Robbie Moore, the floods minister, has pledged grants of up to £25,000 to farms facing uninsured losses.
Defra said: “Landowners are entitled to compensation for losses and damages as a result of temporary flood storage areas. We also encourage farmers to take up flood mitigation options.”