VIDEO: Farmers in the South East are claiming victory in a major battle, which they say will stop a severe food shortage - and prevent more price hikes. John Ryall reports.
Relax water restrictions imposed on farmers - or risk food shortages and spiralling prices. That's the blunt message to the Water Minister. A summit has been looking at the threat to food production in the South posed by climate change and the increasing risk of drought.
Farmers say complex rules limiting the amount of water used on crops must be simplified or scrapped. This is despite a record wet summer. James Smith, chairman of the Kent National Farmers Union spoke to Meridian a little earlier.
Farmers in the South fear that unless plans are put in place, water shortages could lead to increases in food prices. Farmers are asking to be given priority in times of water shortage, and for restrictions on reservoirs to be eased so farmers don't have to take water from river stocks.
The call comes as the Environment Minister, Richard Benyon MP, will deliver the opening speech for the Water Summit at East Malling Research in Kent today. The south experienced a record wet summer after hosepipe bans were introduced in large parts of the south in April.