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Support for flooded farms expanded

| Mark Chatterton | 6 June 2024

More farms affected by the severe flooding this winter should now be able to access support funding through the newly expanded Farming Recovery Fund.

The fund opened in April after this winter saw some of the worst flooding to affect farms in the UK, particularly those in Nottinghamshire and areas of Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.

Farms in these areas, as well as flood-hit Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, are able to access grants to return their land to the condition it was in before the storms.

However, there were some frustrating limitations to the scheme which meant that some farms that were badly affected could not get support, mainly because farms had to be within 150 metres of an eligible river. This meant a farm in Shortferry, East of Lincoln, which was completely cut off by flood water, was too far from a water source to be eligible.

Thankfully, feedback from farmers has led to the scheme being expanded to include a wider geographical area as well as farms that were damaged due to extreme rainfall.

Updated Farming Recovery Fund eligibility

The Department for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is identifying eligible farms based on how close they are to flooded rivers and using rainfall data, contacting farms in areas that had 70% higher rainfall than normal over the period.

The recovery grants are intended to help cover the costs of land remediation, including recultivation, soil remediation or the removal of debris and pollution. Defra has based the payment rates on the average costs farmers are likely to incur and farmers will have flexibility to spend the grant appropriately and will not have to provide evidence of damage, costs or make further claims.

There will be a flat rate payment, set in bands according to farm size. The minimum payment will be £2,895, up to a maximum of £25,000.

It’s also been confirmed that the second instalment of this year’s delinked payment has been brought forward and will be paid from September, just after the first instalment due to be paid from 1st August to aid cash flow.

Flood support is welcome, but be wary of cashflow

While we’ve yet to see the claim forms, this is another welcome support measure, and it’s good to see that the government have finally taken on board farmers’ concerns about the limited scope of the first flood support scheme, which only included rivers.

Bringing forward the delinked payments from December to September will also help. However, I do worry that this will mask a serious cash flow issue in early 2025 when crop sales income will be a lot lower, as there will be less yield from harvest in 2024.

My advice for farmers is to update your cash flow forecasts to work out the impact this will have over the next two years, and do what you can to reduce costs throughout this period.

You can find out more about government support on the gov.uk website and contact the specialist agriculture team I lead at Duncan & Toplis for professional advice and guidance.

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