Government opens fund to support flood-affected farmers

The Farming Recovery Fund has been opened to support farmers affected by flooding, but the CLA warns it could be 'too little too late'
Flooding on Stephen Watkins' farm 2024
Many farmers and CLA members have been affected by the wettest 12-month period in 150 years

Earlier this week, the UK Government opened the Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers who have suffered uninsurable damage to their land as a result of flooding.

The announcement followed the CLA’s renewed calls for the government to swiftly open the fund, which allows affected farmers the ability to apply for grants of between £500 to £25,000 to cover recultivation costs, after it was initially announced in early January following Storm Henk.

Reacting to the news, CLA President Victoria Vyvyan said:

Farmers have been pushed to the limit by Storm Henk, and while the fund is welcome, it risks being too little too late

"After a three-month void in communications from Defra, farmers still have no clarity on what ‘recultivation’ encompasses, whether they can make claims retrospectively, and what criteria triggers the offering of the grant moving forward.

“Farmers are quickly losing patience, and unless government urgently issues more guidance and commits to full compensation, they’ll continue to shoulder the burden of Storm Henk alone.”

Initial problems with the fund

Defra confirmed that the fund will initially be open in those local authority areas where the Flood Recovery Framework, which supports councils and communities following severe flooding, has 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.

Another stipulation for funding is that affected farms must be no more than 150 metres from a ‘main’ river. A condition which would prevent many land managers from accessing payments to support their crops and livestock, including some of the worst hit farmers whose fields are almost entirely submerged by floodwater.

“The fund’s requirements defy common sense in flood management,” responded CLA President Victoria Vyvyan.

“Members have been denied funding for being more than 150m away from rivers, despite flooding depending on landscape, not just distance.

“Farms in the North and Shropshire have also been deemed ineligible, despite also experiencing catastrophic flooding from Storm Henk.

“After three months, it’s frustrating to see how little thought has been given to basic detail.”

While well-intentioned, the government must widen eligibility and be transparent about how it arrived at this criteria to end the confusion across the sector

CLA President Victoria Vyvyan

The latest update

Following a backlash from farmers and industry representatives, including the CLA, the government has removed the 150-metre rule for those who wish to apply for the Farming Recovery Fund.

The CLA hopes that the latest update will open the door for rural enterprises most impacted by the recent wet weather and ensure that they receive much-needed support.

Eligibility for the fund will remain under review by Defra, and further counties under review are Berkshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Derbyshire.

Eligible farmers will be contacted directly by the Rural Payments Agency outlining the support available and how they can make a claim.

Find out how some CLA members have been affected by the wettest 12-month period in 150 years below.

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