Tag Archive: Farming Recovery Fund
Adverse weather has affected farmers up and down the country, with flooding wreaking havoc on fields. In response to this, the government have opened up an emergency fund, the Farm Recovery Fund. Designed to help restore the damage caused by flooding, it’s available to farmers with land in Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Durham.
If you’ve suffered uninsured losses or damage to agriculture land due to flooding, the fund could help you access a grant of up to £20,000. To help you understand more about the Farm Recovery Fund and how you access the grants, we’ve put together this PDF. It gives more information on the details of the grant, what it covers and what evidence you’ll need to present.
Whether it’s offering more insight into the fund, or helping fill out the paperwork, we’re always happy to help. With the fund coming to an end in April, it’s important you’re aware of what support you’re entitled to and how to access the fund.
Click here to download the PDF Briefing Note.
Firstly, may I wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2016. Having said that, for a lot of Yorkshire farmers, it’s started extremely badly as a result of the significant rainfall and subsequent flooding and my sympathies are extended to all those affected.
DEFRA’s Farming Recovery Fund has been extended to all those affected in Yorkshire by the floods between 4-9 and 25-26 December. Between £500 – £20,000 is available to those impacted by the flooding and claim forms must be submitted by 1st April. The fund covers items such as costs for alleviating soil compaction, grass seed cost, restoring access ways, tracks and drainage. Some elements are at standard rates such as re-seeding, fencing, walling, access ways and others such as using contractors for restoring agricultural drainage are up to 100% of eligible costs. Works need to be done and claimed for by end of 2016 and most importantly you need photographs of the flooding and the impact. In exceptional circumstances, you may also be able to claim for damage to buildings and machinery.
I would suggest anyone with flooding issues goes out straight away to take photographs of both the flood water and the land as soon as the flood water recedes. Whilst you may need some quotes from drainage contractors etc., do this while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind, get the application completed and ready for submission.
It’s a timely reminder of the impact of El Nino on our weather system, which occurs every 2-7 years normally at the end of the calendar year and how farming is so susceptible to the elements and profitable times are needed in order to cover these cash strapped years. Conversely, historically food staples have risen by 5-10% during such events and perhaps we may see commodity prices rise over the next few months if global food production is affected in the short term.
Looking into 2016, whilst El Nino may have some effect, global production is still high. Encouraged by previously high prices and with a strong currency, our exports are not looking attractive and budgeting for significant increases in prices would seem bullish. Given this outlook, one needs to look carefully at planned capital expenditure in 2016 and the availability of surplus cash. There have been a lot waiting for the subsidy and I suspect for a number it’s already been spent. The banks are keen to lend, but credit teams are securitising serviceability a lot more and certainly long term debt looks very cheap at present and worth locking into. This may lead to some forced sales of land and property, which is likely to stem land prices. There are buyers in the market, particularly as quite a few development options are being exercised and farmers seeking to roll over gain back into farm land, but those buyers may have more of a choice and perhaps be a bit more picky and I suspect we’ll see significantly more variances in local land prices compared to the previous 3-5 years.
Our Armed Forces and generous volunteers have undoubtedly played an invaluable role in helping those devastated by the floods, but when it comes to providing our first-line of defence, RICS says the North East’s ready-made army of farmers are key.
RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) says Britain’s flood defence plans are all too narrowly focussed on protecting residential areas. There has been much talk of a North/South divide but RICS argues that the rural/urban divide is every bit as damaging when it comes to prioritising flood protection.
It’s worth remembering that the ongoing floods have not only ripped-apart residential communities, but have (according to NFU Mutual) inflicted more than £20m worth of damage – and counting – to farms and rural businesses across the UK. Resulting flood water and landslides have damaged bridges, walls and buildings, as well as causing suffering to local livestock, with reports of entire animal herds and crops being wiped out.
Claire Bainbridge MRICS FAAV, Senior Rural Surveyor at George F White said: “If we want to secure the future of UK food production – and ensure that food prices can be kept as affordable as possible, then rural flood protection must be part of the flood protection picture. However, if residential flood protection is taken to be the priority, we can stop flood water reaching our market towns and villages, by adopting more effective rural land management approaches.”
During the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that he would be investing an additional £2.3bn in flood defences, and RICS has urged that the protection of our countryside is given equal weighting.
Claire adds: “A strategy as basic as planting more trees in upland areas can act as a buffer, slowing the downward flow of water which and could have a significant impact on the likelihood of flooding occurring further downstream.
“Imagine what might have happened in some of the most badly affected areas in the North East if water had been diverted and captured, before it reached people’s homes. How many families might have experienced a very different Christmas?”
Land takes time to heal, and it may take many years for current crop-levels to be matched. So higher food prices and damage to farmer’s incomes look set to continue – and that is before we consider the risk and damage that may be caused by future floods. With this in mind, RICS called on Government this week to incentivise and encourage farmers to help keep our country safe from flooding.
Claire commented: “Some floods can be caused by the saturation of upland soil. Rather than acting as a sponge, the wet soil accelerates the flow of water down to the towns and villages. By planting bog mosses in those upland areas, the ground may become more absorbent, reducing and slowing the volume of water that could potentially reach homes.”
Such an approach to flood defence is known as Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) and RICS has asked the Environment Agency to work with farmers to adopt it, and ensure that our valuable countryside is working for us in the future.
The ICM approach works in three ways – by managing the storage of flood water through the creation of ponds and ditches; by increasing soil infiltration (an example of this is the planting of spongy bog moss); and by slowing the flow of water, potentially by channelling it by planting buffer strips of trees.
Claire adds: “Currently the most expensive rural land will be that which can grow the widest variety of crops, and the least will be those hilly wildernesses sparsely populated by sheep. Recently steps have been taken to ensure that land which plays home to rare species of wildlife is recognised in our valuation systems, but still no consideration has been given to place a higher value on land that serves a wider public good – whether that might mean soaking up flood water, or diverting its flow from towns and villages.
“If farmers and estate owners knew that they could add real monetary value to their land by introducing a raft of flood management measures, it may well serve as an incentive to improve flood defences within the UK.
“North East farmers have the potential to offer their country a modern day arc that will protect people, properties and livestock from oncoming floods for many years to come. But they can only do this if Government commits the right level of funding and support in all areas, both urban and rural.”
The Government opened (on Friday 18th December 2015) an emergency fund to help farmers affected by the recent flooding in December 2015 to restore damaged agricultural land with the application period closing by the 1st April 2016.
Flood-affected farmers in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland who have suffered uninsurable losses can apply for Farming Recovery Fund (FRF) grants. The size of the grants range from £500 to £20,000 per claimant, with any active farmer or landowner who has the responsibility of the restoration of the land able to apply.
The grants can cover a range of works including re-seeding grass fields, soil restoration, removing flood debris, restoring agricultural drainage and restoring access/track ways.
The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) will run the fund on behalf of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Supporting evidence is required showing the need for the grant and the damage caused by the recent floods and any potential applicants should take photos showing the extent of the damage as soon as possible. Should the repair work have already commenced or been completed the grant is still available, subject to certain criteria being satisfied.
If you would like further information please contact:
Hamish Smales (Alnwick) on 01665 511981
Sally Horrocks (Bedale) on 01677 458201
Tom Mason (Shiptonthorpe) on 01430 876015