Shropshire Star

Shropshire MP in call for funding help for farmers hit by flooding

An MP has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to demand a change in Government policy on support for flood-hit farmers.

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North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan acted after Shropshire was left off the list of areas where farmers are eligible to claim from the Farming Recovery Fund, aimed at supporting the agricultural sector in areas hit by record levels of flooding.

Joined by Westmoreland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, in whose Cumbrian constituency farmers are also unable to claim any support, Mrs Morgan has asked the Secretary of State, Steve Barclay, to ensure that ‘farmers have access to a long-term support scheme, properly adjusted to consider the realities of rural flooding’.

She said she was ‘astounded that many are not eligible’ for the fund and said: “Flooding is a huge problem for farmers and rural residents across many parts of North Shropshire.

"Even if your property doesn’t flood, valuable farmland often does – and it’s the same for key roads, particularly on the Welsh border around Melverley.

“It is astounding that Shropshire was not included in the recently announced Farming Recovery Fund, which only offers support to farmers in councils which operate under a framework that doesn’t understand sparsely populated rural areas. To me, it feels like we are being penalised for having the wrong sort of flooding.

"I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to demand a change in Government policy and get our farmers the support they need. The current rules aren’t fair and we need action now to put them right.”

Last month, Robert Newbery, NFU regional director, said: “We know Shropshire farmers are under pressure personally and financially and we are doing all we can to make the case to Government on their behalf.

“The NFU has impressed on Defra the need for the fund to be kept open for other areas badly affected, like Shropshire and our other Midlands counties, who are either under review or not included in the announcement.”

DEFRA had said the counties selected – Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire – had experienced ‘the highest levels of flooding’, and were chosen after an eligibility criteria was drawn up.

The department added that eligibility for the fund would remain under review “to ensure it is supporting areas where farmland is most impacted”.

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