The NFU has called on Government to ensure that future policies recognise the critical link between water and food security, and that they help deliver enough water for farmers to grow food.
On Tuesday, the day that the Government’s Water Bill reached the Committee Stage in Parliament, NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond was due to make the call at a meeting of abstractor group delegates and irrigators in Newmarket.
The Bill is just one element of the Government’s wider programme to address water pressures, and contains provision for farmers dependent on a mains supply of water, but does not offer any help to farmers who rely on abstracting their own water from rivers and boreholes.
“Many farms, together with manufacturing and processing businesses who rely on farms to produce our food, are dependent on a secure supply of affordable, wholesome mains water,” Mr Raymond was to say.
“Those businesses will undoubtedly be interested in benefits that may result from changes in retail competition proposed by the Bill.
“However, fruit and vegetable farmers tend to abstract water from rivers and boreholes rather than rely on mains water.
“Over the past 20 years, many have improved their long-term resilience to water scarcity by constructing on-farm reservoir storage facilities.
“We need to build more reservoirs on farms and we need sensible planning rules, a simple, flexible licensing system and tax incentives to encourage farmers to take on these construction projects.
“The crucial issue for the NFU is that this Bill must be underpinned by Government policies that recognise and promote the link between water and food security.
“Above all, we look to Government to deliver a fair share of waterto farmers to grow our food and ensure sufficient money is spent to maintain conveyance in our rivers and reduce the risk of flooding.”