Duncan Farrington: Flooded farmers let down by authorities

The plight of the flooded farmers in Somerset has brought out the best in people, says Duncan, including Fotheringhay farmer Bill Martin who sent bales of hay to the afflicted areas

The plight of the flooded farmers in Somerset has brought out the best in people, says Duncan, including Fotheringhay farmer Bill Martin who sent bales of hay to the afflicted areas

0
Have your say

Those who have read my column for some time will know I mention the weather occasionally.

Recently it has been making the national headlines. We had a few trees blow down, including one which blocked the road for a couple of hours before we cleared it up.

However, this is nothing compared to what many elsewhere have suffered.

Farmers on the Somerset Levels have suffered a second year of potentially livelihood-ruining conditions.

I visited farmers on the levels last year, remembering one farmer; an award-winning, forward-thinking person, with a fantastic business he has built up with his family and staff over the years.

Most of his pasture was under water for 11 and a half months of the year.

This nearly sent his business to the wall, but thanks to determination and a close relationship with his bank, they worked out a way for him to pull through it. That was last year, but now I think of him as it has all happened again.

Somerset farmers know the levels flood; they have done since Roman times. Up to 1990, rivers were dredged to manage the winter flooding.

However, with authorities like the Environment Agency now run by Westminster intelligentsia, priorities had changed and despite local knowledge and opposition, the powers from afar have not carried out this vital management in recent years, which has led to the inevitable consequences in the last two years.

Fortunately it looks like things may change from now on, as organisations will have to answer some big questions on the balance of priorities.

In the meantime there has been a surge of support for flood victims. Farmers nationwide have organised food and bedding for stranded livestock, while the generosity of the wider British population has been overwhelming.

In rural and urban areas alike, neighbours have been helping each other when homes have been deluged with flood waters. Often such devastating events bring out the best in people.

Last month I predicted I would have planted our spring beans by now.

However, the continued rain has so far not allowed that, although I hope we can be doing something in the next couple of weeks.