The River Hull Strategy and long term issues with maintenance and management of the whole catchment were top of the agenda when 20 local farmers met with local MP Sir Greg Knight and MEP Timothy Kirkhope.
Calling for more progress to be made in implementing the Strategy, farmers once again raised the issue of the sunken barge vessels that remain in the River Hull and continue to restrict the water flow and capacity of the watercourse.
Sir Greg Knight said it was important to pursue the River Hull Strategy with vigour and that he would be doing so with parliamentary colleagues. Given the recent Boxing Day floods, flooding was now high on the agenda of Government, he added, and he was firmly of the view that farmers, as well as home owners, should be considered when flood defences were being planned.
He said: “Having met with local farmers, I understand that whilst the recent floods didn’t directly affect East Yorkshire they highlighted the need for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to progress with the outcomes of the River Hull Strategy.”
Other issues raised at the meeting included the delay in Basic Payment Scheme payments and the crippling effect this is having on the agricultural industry and wider rural economy.
Farmers also raised frustrations at the complexity of Natural England’s new Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
This complexity, they argued makes the scheme very inaccessible and as a result, there has been incredibly low uptake nationally.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP used the opportunity to talk about the new European Commission initiative – the Agricultural Markets Task Force – designed to support farmers in their dealings with the food supply chain.
He said: “This is a real opportunity for our farmers to get better contractual terms as suppliers of food and food products and to ensure that there are also opportunities for collective farmers’ action through the National Farmers’ Union if necessary.”