Somerset farmer tells of devastation of flooding during address to March and Chatteris NFU

From left John Hebditch MBE, (farmer from Somerset), Steve Barclay MP, Trevor Edgley (Group NFU Chai

From left John Hebditch MBE, (farmer from Somerset), Steve Barclay MP, Trevor Edgley (Group NFU Chairman), Chris Gowler (Group NFU Vice Chairman) and Andrew Ward MBE (Lincolnshire Farmer and Forage Aid Founder). - Credit: Archant

A Somerset farmer spoke of the devastation caused by the floods that his county was guest speaker at a dinner of Fenland farmers.

John Hebditch proposed the toast “success to agriculture and National Farmers Union” and the other speaker was Andrew Ward a Lincolnshire farmer and Forage Aid Founder.

NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay joined members of the farming community for the annual March and Chatteris NFU dinner.

Mr Hebditch said the Somerset would take years to recover from the floods. He explained the lack of ongoing maintenance and funding for flood defence works was at the route of the problem.

He thanked Eastern farmers for the aid they sent during the height of the floods and afterwards.

Mr Ward responded to Mr Hebditch’s toast and spoke about the aid that was sent by Fen farmers to those in the West.

He said farmers donated the aid (bedding and fodder) while hauliers provided the transport and the public gave cash donations to help fund the whole operation.

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Peter Eddy, group secretary, said: “It was an enjoyable and interesting evening. It highlighted that we must continue to be forward thinking and develop and correctly fund land drainage both now and in the future.”

Mr Barclay said: “It was an informative evening. I am very much aware of the importance of land drainage and have held a flooding summit in the past to discuss the issue. The floods in March in the summer showed how this area is not immune and work is needed to ensure our area stays dry in the future.”