UK farmers warn of rotting crops after Storm Babet flooding

Farmers in the United Kingdom warn of rotting crops after Storm Babet flooding

oktober 26, 2023
Potato and cereal crops are likely to have been heavily damaged by the recent devastating floods across the United Kingdom, farmers have warned.

Entire fields have been submerged in water after Storm Babet swept across the country, with crops ruined. Extreme weather events are becoming more likely and frequent due to climate breakdown, and have caused food shortages and price increases.

The storms have left at least seven people dead and hundreds more homeless after flash floods followed heavy rain.

An estimated 1,250 properties in England have been flooded while about 30,000 properties have needed flood protection, according to the Environment Agency. Farmers say the floods will damage this year’s harvest.

Jerry Alford, adviser at The Soil Association farming:
"The flooding will have a devastating impact on winter cereals and make spring cropping more likely with the inevitable lower yields."

"Those farmers affected who have already invested in planting this year will be facing a catastrophic impact and considerable financial losses at a time of real crisis."

"Parts of the UK are hugely vulnerable to flooding and recent years have shown that the impact of climate change is going to wreak havoc with harvests unless we act now to build on farm resilience, review land use and build a plan for horticulture which addresses these risks."
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said their members’ crops were rotting under water, and called for the government to put in place a water strategy to prevent such losses.

Tom Bradshaw, President of The NFU deputy:
"The farming community too has been impacted with hundreds of acres of productive farmland under water and land that’s now inaccessible."

"We’re hearing desperate stories from many of our members who are struggling to get crops out of the ground from this season, or are still to plant autumn crops for next year."

"Those crops that are in the ground are likely to rot, meaning the output and profitability of next year’s harvest is already seriously compromised, building on an unprecedented year in terms of weather and cost."

"Despite what we’ve heard from government in recent times about the importance of UK food security, this just isn’t being reflected in policies on how the nation’s food production is valued, and how water infrastructure is managed."

"Farming is on the frontline of climate change and the sector is experiencing volatility and severe weather events more often. It’s why we absolutely need a long-term plan to improve how we manage water in times of flood and drought, as we regularly experience both on an annual basis, and both severely impact our ability to produce food."
The effects of flooding are expected to continue, with yellow rain warnings in place until Wednesday afternoon in some parts of the country.

The Met Office said 13 areas had broken their daily rainfall records for October last week, including sites in Suffolk, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Kincardineshire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Northumberland, Derbyshire and Humberside.

Last year, farmers faced turmoil because of the extended drought and extreme heat, which caused crop losses, water shortages and effects on planting and harvesting.

The impacts of the flooding caused by Storm Babet on the agricultural sector and working closely with the Environment Agency. Farmers and land managers have an increasingly important role to play in reducing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion as they adapt to climate change, through measures such as natural flood management.

As set out in the latest flood strategy roadmap, risk management authorities will be working with farmers and landowners to help them adapt their businesses and practices to be resilient to flooding and coastal change.