Farmer says after "worst winter ever" it's miracle any crop survived rain deluge

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A farmer of 45 years today told how this winter had been the worst he had ever experienced and how it had destroyed much of his crop

George Munns, 62, said it is a miracle any of his sugar beet crop survived after a difficult winter season left his fields under water.

George lost up to 400 tonnes of sugar beet after the wet winter left a field under two feet of water for nearly five months.

The farmer of 45 years had expected a yield of 700 tonnes from the worst waterlogged field and said there has "never been a year like the one we just had".

He said that the loss of around 350 tonnes of sugar beet will cost him £14,000 -
and estimates he could lose £50,000 from his other crops he hasn't been able to plant.

Recent record-breaking rain has left crops under water with the National Farmers' Union (NFU) calling on the government to do more to compensate flooded farmers.

Mr Munns, from Chatteris, Cambs, said: "The wet weather set in in the middle of October and carried on throughout the winter, only stopping just a few weeks ago.

"We had to leave 12 hectares of last year's sugar beet crop in the ground over winter due to the conditions and lifted them out two days ago.

"Out of that final field, we lost about 50 per cent of it - between 300 and 400 tonnes of sugar beet.

"We’d normally expect 70 tonnes a hectare but it went rotten and there was nothing there.

"One of the fields was under two foot of water. It was a miracle that any of the crop survived.

"It is what it is - it’s a funny old job farming and you shouldn’t let it get you down."

The NFU has warned of "substantially reduced output" and "potential hits" to the quality of crops due to weeks of rain since the autumn months.

This week, the government launched its Farm Recovery Fund, offering grants of between £500 and £25,000 to farmers in England who have suffered uninsurable flooding damage.

Mr Munns said the idea of compensation was a "contentious" issue.

The owner of Westmoor Farm said: "I can’t speak for all farmers and some have suffered much worse than I have.

"With the degree of interruption on our farm, I don’t think it would be suitable for us to ask for money.

"I'd much rather row my own boat. When money becomes involved, people start telling you what to do.

"There is nothing that could ever stop me from wanting to farm.

"I love my way of life and if it was easy, there would be a lot of competition. Warts and all, I've have it all again in a heartbeat."