A SOMERSET MP is calling on the government to offer farmers an 'emergency aid package' to help them cope with the effects of excessive rainfall. 

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said ministers should be looking at ways to support farmers after an 'exceptionally' wet winter. 

Due to the weather, Mr Liddell-Grainger has noted that ploughing and seeding have been delayed, with fears there will be shortages of UK grown food. 

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard it said but as I travel round my constituency I see little evidence of words being turned into actions,” he said.

“In Government speak ‘support’ seems to extend only to drawing up complex schemes to pay farmers grants some way down the line as long as they have the time to fill in all the paperwork themselves - or the money to employ someone to do it for them.

“But at the moment farmers don’t want more forms to fill in; they need hard cash going into their bank accounts so they can survive another trading year.”

According to Defra, there is support available for farmers through the Farming Recovery Fund. 

“We are acutely aware of the impact extreme weather can have on the farming community, including in the south west," a Defra spokesperson said.

"Farmers who have suffered uninsurable damage to their land by exceptional flooding will be able to apply for grants of up to £25,000 through the Farming Recovery Fund towards repair and reinstatement costs.

“Since 2015, we have protected over 400,000 hectares of agricultural land from the impacts of flooding and are also investing £5.2 billion to better protect communities from flooding and coastal erosion, including those who live in rural areas.

“Landowners are entitled to compensation for losses and damages as a result of temporary flood storage areas. We also encourage farmers to take up new flood mitigation options that are available to them.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger added that 'only a miracle' will help the situation. 

“The ground is still too wet to plough, or to turn out livestock without it getting poached, and only a miracle is going to prevent a rich crop of farm failures this year," he added.

"And miracles don’t happen all that often.

“I think the industry is now beginning to realise that other European states look after their farmers far better; place far more value on the work they do in producing food; and are ready to step in with emergency support when the weather starts heaping up operational costs to an unsupportable level.

“Here we have a Government whose only concern appears to be phasing out direct farm support and replacing it with a system which could almost have been designed to reduce income.

“Unless they want to see a catastrophic level of business failures in the sector this year ministers must consider a package of direct, no-strings support for the industry - and deliver it immediately.”