Prospective MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow gets Ministerial Commitment.
Today Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announces that farmers in the flood hit areas of the Somerset Levels will be able to apply for grants of up to £35,000 to help them recover from the worst flooding in decades. This upper limit is seven times higher than the original £5000 made available through the Government backed Farm Recovery Fund.
Prospective MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow, campaigned to get the Minister to Somerset again to discuss the funding levels and after meeting key members of the flood planning team in the county during the day yesterday he met Rebecca at a special meeting in Taunton where her lobbying on behalf of the farmers on the Levels hit home. Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said:
“Our farming industry contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy every year and we want to see it get back to business as soon as possible.
“From the end of the month, farmers will be able to apply for up to £35,000 to meet the costs of putting flooded farmland back into production.”
Prospective MP Rebecca Pow, who was brought up on a Somerset farm was delighted at the news:
"I campaigned hard to get the Minister here again and this is a fantastic result. I could not have asked for more. This money will be a life line enabling farmers to re-seed ruined grass swards, fix agricultural premises and do whatever it takes to get back on their feet.
I am also pleased that I, together with others in the agricultural community, have convinced Owen Paterson, to cut the grant application form down to 6 pages from the ludicrous 50 pages Defra had come up with. The initial form was not just time consuming to fill out but so complicated many people would have spent much of the money they hoped to gain through the grant, on employing the services of professionals to help complete it!"
Farmers will be able to apply for the grant from the Farming Recovery Fund from the end of the month (April 28.th) This is part of the £10million David Cameron is investing to help farmers affected by flooding get their land back into production as soon as possible and shows a whole hearted commitment to the rural areas. Bids for grants of up to £5000 have already been coming in and money was kept in reserve for the worst affected farmers who needed longer to assess the extent of flood damage.