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Rodney Down: Flooding strikes again and farm budgets cause some anxiety


I think if you told some of the farmers down river from ourselves the flooding was another ‘once in a lifetime occurrence’ they would probably try and drown you or use you as a sand bag.

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For the second year running it is a mess. I believe now it has happened twice in two years, maybe the river will get dredged to increase its capacity from what some report is as low as 60 per cent.


No-one is denying we would still get flooded, but the severity and the length of time under water could be reduced. As one farmer quite rightly said ‘if we were living in another country with similar flooding the UK Government would have sent aid to help us’, or if we were living in China then the river would have been widened or a relief ditch built straight through populated areas to alleviate the situation.


Ironically, the Environment Agency issued letters the week before the floods informing us they would be navigating the tributaries of the local river looking for sources of pollution from businesses and farms. I just wonder if they are thinking dilution is actually the solution – for a while anyway.


So as we paddle our way into 2014 with my forecasting cap on, I look at my budgets with some trepidation this year. I fear only January will see our highest milk price ever, I will not see the dizzy heights of £180 per tonne for my wheat and the only beef sold at £4 per kg will be on special offer at the local supermarket, but I do, however, get it wrong nearly every year.


A momentary lapse in my budget planning will see tax, HP payments, fertiliser and dairy feed all paid in the same week this month – ouch.


The one thing I am never going to complain about any more is paying tax, with Lauren’s treatment ongoing the service we receive from our local NHS is world beating. She is making steady progress all helped by great messages of support.

Rodney Down


Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

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