The Government has been told it should be prepared to invest in mental health care following the devastation of tonnes of rainwater on farmland.
Excessive downpours in the east of England and the Midlands, which hit on November 8, has left farmers counting the cost with the Environment Agency (EA) being blamed for its lack of river maintenance.
NFU member and Nottinghamshire county chairwoman Claire Leggott, who hosted Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers on her farm on the Nottinghamshire/ Lincolnshire border last week, said the situation ‘cannot be ignored any more’.
The bank of Barlings Eau in Lincolnshire has turned thousands of acres of farmland into a ‘six feet deep lake’, she said.
Ms Leggott said: “[Ms Villiers] listened to what we had to say and I am strongly hoping that any future Government takes into account that we may not be able to adhere to the three-crop rule next year for the 2020 Basic Payment Scheme payment because of this deluge.
“Farmers are finding the situation very stressful and there may need to be investment in mental health care.”
It came as members of Went Valley district Young Farmers’ Club cancelled their winter rally to shift more than 60 tonnes of rubbish to help the flood-stricken residents of Fishlake, South Yorkshire.
The Doncaster village has been submerged in water for two weeks and 35 members from the clubs in Doncaster, Pontefract and Selby filled multiple 14-tonne skips and 15-tonne lorries.
Went Valley chairman Lewis Marshall, who encouraged the clean-up, reiterated the need to keep the pressure on the EA.
He said: “As farmers, we notice the EA failing to perform basic watercourse maintenance. Or if work is done, it follows European directives which have shifted away from dredging and towards being more bothered about ecological status.
“Even some of our youngest members could talk knowledgeably about the importance of keeping ditches clear and dredging rivers.
“It is infuriating that nobody listens to all the years of experience farmers have.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We have a wide range of defences along the River Don that more effectively reduce flood risk to communities, but dredging would not have prevented the recent flooding there.
“While the Water Framework Directive requires us to consider the impact of dredging on the ecological health of rivers, it does not prevent us from carrying out dredging where it is needed to protect people and property.”