Impacts of the summer 2007 floods on agriculture in England
Exceptional rainfall during the summer of 2007 caused widespread flooding in parts of England, resulting in the displacement of people and extensive damage to houses, businesses and infrastructure. While the focus of attention has been correctly placed on the impact on life and property in densely populated urban areas, large tracts of rural land were seriously affected by flooding. Summer flooding is particularly damaging to farmland and farm businesses. This paper presents preliminary results from an evaluation of the impacts of the summer 2007 flood events in the rural sector with particular reference to agriculture. High financial losses were incurred in the horticultural sector, often with complete loss of high value crops. Arable farmers incurred direct losses in the form of crop loss or yield reduction due to flooding and associated waterlogging of fields. Livestock farmers incurred indirect losses in the form of additional housing and feeding costs for livestock. Although total costs to agriculture were small compared to urban flood costs, they were typically large at the individual farm scale. Such impacts should be properly acknowledged in future strategies for flood risk management, especially if this involves the sacrificial flooding of farmland in favour of urban areas.