flooding of carrot fields

Source: Nationwide Produce

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

The government has launched a 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 by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) outlining the support available to them through the fund and how they can make a claim.

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

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

“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,” said farming minister Mark Spencer.

“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.”

Providing a ‘lifeline’ for farming communities

The NFU has welcomed the opening of the fund and said ministers who have driven this forward “will have the thanks of many of our members for whom it will be a lifeline”.

“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,” said NFU vice president Rachel Hallos. “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.”

The fund will initially be open in those local authority areas where the Flood Recovery Framework has already been activated to help farms which 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, something the NFU supported, and further counties under review include Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire.

‘A crisis is building’

“People should be in no doubt about the immense pressure UK farm businesses are under thanks to this unprecedented and constant rain,” said Hallos. “It’s no exaggeration to say a crisis is building.” 

Earlier this year, farmers warned unprecedented flooding across key agricultural areas was threatening the long-term security of domestic vegetable supply.

Flooding has already had material impact on supermarket shelves, with packs of potatoes reducing in size and increasing in price in the major multiples as revealed by The Grocer last week.

“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,” said Hallos.

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