Flooding in Northern Ireland fields 'a major blow' to crops

Severe flooding has been a "major blow" to farmers whose crops have been severely damaged, the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has said.

The union said that many farmers have lost a "significant amount of crop" to the wet weather.

It comes after a number of areas in counties Down, Armagh and Antrim were hit by heavy flooding.

The UFU also said whatever produce survives the flooding may be lower in quality.

"This is a major blow for our growers who have put a huge amount of investment into producing a premium crop and are now trying to salvage what remains," the union said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Derek Erwin who farms 200 acres of potatoes on the Ards peninsula said only half his harvest had been lifted and it was very unlikely it would be worth digging up anything more.

When the water was at its peak last week, he had to bring in diggers to open channels and let it escape into a ditch to try to keep the potato drills dry.

Derek Erwin
Derek Erwin says only half his harvest had been lifted

He said 2023 had included the driest February, the wettest March, the wettest July and now heavy rain in recent days.

When potatoes have been lying in water for more than 24 hours they rot and many of Derek's potatoes are either green or gone to mush.

The UFU said it had been engaging with politicians in an effort to raise awareness of the "difficult situation" facing many farmers following the flooding.

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Hilary Benn said the government was not doing enough to provide financial support for homeowners and businesses affected by the floods in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Office said it was a devolved matter but that it would work closely with the Northern Ireland Civil Service.