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Herefordshire farmers fear for their livelihoods as fields remain under water
Updated 10:51am Monday 10th February 2014 in News
FARMERS are concerned about the impact further Herefordshire flooding may have on their livelihoods, calling it a big issue of the future.
Heavy rainfall could destroy crops and disrupt livestock farming, lead - ing to significant financial losses if conditions do not improve soon, they say.
Alistair Hunter-Blair, of Weir End Farm, near Ross, said: “25 acres of wheat will be a write-off if we get an - other major downpour. Our biggest financial cost will be to re-plant the crops.”
A total of 150 acres of Mr Hunter-Blair’s land have been under water after almost double the usual amount of rain fell in January – six inches according to the farm’s rain gauge.
The average fall for January since his family started collecting records in 1968 is only three inches.
John Bishop, of Cummins Farm, Colwall, has lost 200 acres of land to flooding, forcing him to move thousands of sheep from waterlogged lowlands to hillsides and sheds.
He said the weather had been less than helpful to his operations this year and fears February and March could bring more adverse weather.
This winter has still been less harsh for Mr Bishop than last year, when a long cold spell caused big losses to both crops and livestock.
Oliver Cartwright, a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, said: “Farmers have had to endure rain and gales and it has had a real impact. It has been particu - larly difficult to get machinery on to saturated land.
“Further efforts are needed to protect productive farmland from flooding in the county.
“But Herefordshire farmers are a resilient bunch who have got on with their jobs – that is producing great tasting products,” he added.
Mr Cartwright said he was thankful the West Midlands had been shielded from some of the worst condi - tions seen in the south of England.
In Somerset extensive floods have led to the army being called in to help vic - tims, while David Cameron has intervened to order the dredging of rivers.
Russell Carrington, of the Herefordshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said: “It has been a very wet year. Extremely high rainfall has made access to land near impossible.
“For young farmers the adverse weather is a big issue for the future and because of the changing climate we need to be more pragmatic in dealing with this issue.”
Mr Carrington is also chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, where he is involved in championing work to make farming more resil - ient to future challenges