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Severe Floods 'Threaten Food Security', Say Farmers and Environmental Groups (UK)

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Severe flooding threatens to undermine the country's food security, according to farmers and environmental groups, who today accuse the government of failing to address the effects of climate change on coastal and rural areas.

As gales swept southern and western parts of the UK, with already drenched counties bearing the brunt of the storms, it has emerged that parliament's select committee on the environment warned in a report last year that "the current model for allocating flood defense funding is biased towards protecting property, which means that funding is largely allocated to urban areas. Defra's [the Department of the Environment's] failure to protect rural areas poses a long-term risk to the security of UK food production, as a high proportion of the most valuable agricultural land is at risk of flooding."

"We need a response from government that recognizes the importance for our long-term food security of safeguarding high-quality farmland," said Neil Sinden of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. "We need to view the countryside as more than a place for building, and value it for the food it provides."

Defra has estimated that 35,000 hectares of high-quality horticultural and arable land will be flooded at least once every three years by the 2020s. This could rise to around 130,000 hectares by the 2080s if there is no change to current flood defense provision.

Peter Kendall, chairman of the National Farmers Union, which has produced evidence showing that 58% of England's most productive farmland lies within a floodplain, said the floods were a wake-up call for a country that has "believed for too long that producing food wasn't a big issue".    


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