Farmers across Yorkshire see crops rot and hedgehogs drown as they still face flood misery

With winter storms leaving vast areas of food producing land still underwater in East Yorkshire, the NFU is demanding action over water management from government and stakeholders.

Hundreds of acres of farmland are still underwater with some farmers surrounded on all sides by deluge and cut off from dry land.

The NFU said a comprehensive water management strategy is urgently needed to improve flood resilience, including adequate investment, so Yorkshires’ farmers and growers can continue producing the nation’s food.

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Many farmers are seeing this year’s crops rotting after some of the heaviest rainfall for decades on the back of the 2023 harvest which was the most expensive crop ever grown due to inflation and lower yields.

Flooding in East Yorkshire has left crops and wildlife under water.Flooding in East Yorkshire has left crops and wildlife under water.
Flooding in East Yorkshire has left crops and wildlife under water.

Nigel Watson is an arable and livestock farmer from near Driffield and said the floods are the worst he can remember.

He said: “We have not seen it this bad since 1961 according to local records. Above that though is the worry about what would happen if the riverbank burst. The flood plain is already full, and under that water we have a field of winter wheat.

“We know from looking at the condition of the River Hull where the problems are. Many sections of the river are completely choked up.

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"Our land can lie wet during the winter which encourages all aquatic wildlife such as swans however wildflowers and hedgehogs will have drowned, and my concern is what will be left behind.”

While the government has announced additional financial support to those communities and businesses impacted, they are yet to define the areas that will be eligible for recovery funding.

The NFU says it will be working with Defra to maximise the opportunities for its members.

Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: "Thousands of acres of productive farmland are still under water and many crops are not going to survive the winter with the huge financial stress and misery that brings.

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“With more than 150 flood warnings in place, we are continuing to monitor the situation and supporting our members via our network of contacts in the Environment Agency and local authorities.

“The NFU welcomes the latest announcement from government of financial support for those communities impacted by flooding. We will be looking through the details carefully to see what is covered and who is eligible to apply.

“This constant wet weather again highlights the need for government to recognise the strategic importance of domestic food production and urgently deliver solutions to mitigate the impact of flooding of farmland to ensure our farmers and growers can continue producing food for the nation.”

Mr Watson and other farmers and growers in the region are calling for an urgent round table meeting to discuss flooding and the need for collaboration between local authorities, water companies, the Environment Agency and farmers who protect adjacent urban areas by absorbing and holding flood water at personal cost to the farms themselves

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