Flood-Hit Farms To Get Share Of £10m Fund
Flood-hit farmers are to share £10m of Government cash from a fund to help them get back into production.
Farming minister George Eustice revealed details of the fund in a speech to the National Farmers' Union (NFU) Conference in Birmingham.
"We have suffered the wettest winter for 250 years and the impact has led to thousands of properties being flooded and many families' lives being turned upside down," Mr Eustice said.
"As the Prime Minister has said, we understand the hardship and disruption this causes families and businesses and we will do everything in our power to help the recovery operation now under way."
The fund is to help with four key areas of recovery and offer support with uninsured losses.
Mr Eustice said it would help with restoring grassland and productive arable and horticultural land which, in turn, would help to restore vehicle access to fields and improve field drainage.
Under the scheme, all farmers affected by the flooding will be able to apply for emergency funding of up to £5,000, covering up to 100% of their business costs.
This will allow them to continue growing crops and grazing livestock.
NFU president Peter Kendall told the conference that the Government needed to find ways to remove red rape around landowners carrying out their own maintenance - such as keeping vegetation cut back and clearing silt from rivers.
"Routine dredging has got to be part of the answer for the Somerset Levels," he said.
"But what's needed on the Levels may be different from what's needed in the Thames Valley or Cumbria - devastated in 2009 - or in North West Wales where there are 1,000 acres awash with saltwater, or along the coast of Lincolnshire - 600 acres of grade one land inundated last December.
"We have to increase budgets and review the balance between capital works and routine maintenance."
A second part of the fund will be reserved to help those farms which continue to be affected but where it is too soon to be able to assess the full extent of the damage, Mr Eustice told the conference.
"Once we have a better picture of the scale of the damage we will reassess the upper limit for grants and we will keep the scheme under constant review so that it remains flexible and is targeted at those in greatest need," he said.
Additionally, the £10m Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will offer eligible farmers grants of up to £35,000 on schemes designed to make businesses more resilient, he said.
"We want to help farmers affected by flooding and the severe weather to get their businesses back on track as soon as possible.
"The new £10m Farming Recovery Fund has been set up to help farmers directly affected meet short-term costs as the flood waters recede," the minister told the conference.
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