Floods: Agriculture

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered am ar 23 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of recent flooding on (a) food production and (b) the health of livestock.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK agricultural sector is highly resilient and adaptable and operates in an open market with the value of commodities established by those in the supply chain.

The recent prolonged period of wet weather has impacted the UK arable and livestock sectors in several ways. These include late/limited planting opportunities for arable and horticulture crops; delayed turn out of grazing animals and the associated risk of diseases in keeping animals housed indoors for longer periods than usual, concerns about the potential scarcity and cost of straw; a build-up of stored slurry and reduced application opportunities; and wider concerns about the impact on mental health of farmers. Yields and productivity will also vary depending on individual farmer decisions, region, area and in the case of the arable sector, crop and soil type amongst other factors.

A number of individual farms have clearly been affected by the wet weather. While the current market assessment is that there may be implications over the coming months for certain commodities, particularly in the expected yield and quality of several arable crops this summer/autumn, it is still too early to predict the full impact on domestic food production, especially if the weather improves in the coming weeks.

We continue to monitor the on-going situation, working closely with the industry and through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG). The UK AMMG held an interim meeting on 16 April to specifically consider the impacts of the weather on each commodity sector.

The Farming Recovery Fund has been opened to provide farmers support to recover from uninsurable damage with grants of between £500 and £25,000 to return their land to the condition it was before exceptional flooding of Storm Henk. The fund was initially opened in nine English local authority areas where the Flood Recovery Framework has been activated to help farms which have experienced the highest levels of flooding. Eligibility for the Fund is actively under review.

This forms part of a package of support available to farmers through the Flood Recovery Framework, including a grant of up to £2,500 through the Business Recovery Grant Scheme.

The UK Food Security Report (UKFSR) sets out an analysis of statistical data relating to food security, fulfilling the duty in the Agriculture Act 2020 to present a report on food security to Parliament at least once every three years. It examines trends relevant to food security to present the best available understanding. The report was last published in December 2021 and will next be published by December 2024.

Starting this year, we are strengthening our food security monitoring by producing the Annual Food Security Index. This will complement the UKFSR with a shorter and more regular report. The first version will be published at the Farm to Fork Summit in the Spring.

The next UKFSR, which will be published later this year, will include analysis on the risk of flooding to food security as part of its assessment of longer-term climate-related trends.

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