WEST Somerset farmers should be offered emergency aid to help them cope with the effects of an exceptionally wet winter, local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said this week.

He said farmers were facing unprecedented levels of hardship as a result of weeks of above-average rainfall.

Seasonal work such as ploughing and seeding had been delayed and there were widespread fears that harvest yields could well be poor or even disastrous. 

Mr Liddell-Grainger said there could be a no more opportune moment for the Government to show it genuinely supports the nation’s farmers.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard it said but as I travel round my constituency I see little evidence of words being turned into actions,” he said.

“In ‘government speak, ‘support’ seems to extend only to drawing up complex schemes to pay farmers grants some way down the line.

“But at the moment farmers don’t want more forms to fill in - they need hard cash going into their bank accounts so that they can survive another trading year.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the wettest winter weather for years had brought unprecedented problems for farmers in West Somerset

He said: “The ground is still too wet to plough, or to turn out livestock without it getting poached, and only a miracle is going to prevent a rich crop of farm failures this year. And in farming miracles don’t happen all that often. 

“I think the industry is now beginning to realise that other European states look after their farmers far better - place far more value on the work they do in producing food and are ready to step in with emergency support when the weather starts heaping up operational costs to an unsupportable level.

“Here we have a government whose only concern appears to be phasing out direct farm support and replacing it with a system which could almost have been designed to reduce income.

“Unless they want to see a catastrophic level of business failures in the sector this year ministers must consider a package of direct, no-strings support for the industry - and deliver it immediately.”