'It's cost us £100,000': Extreme rain leaves farmers with dead lambs and decimated crops

South west England saw the wettest February on record earlier this year and across the country, there was 29% more rainfall than the average, ITV News' Sangita Lal reports

Crouched down in a biscuit wheat field, Tom Collins - a Wiltshire arable farmer - rolls soil between his hands and shows me a lump of mud, which he says means it's too wet for any of his crops to grow.

"It shouldn't stick together like this, it should break apart and crumble between my fingers," Mr Collins told ITV News.

He has just three days now to plant 200 acres of wheat to get enough yield for his next harvest, but all he can do is wait until the soil dries out.

South west England saw the wettest February on record earlier this year and across the country, there was 29% more rainfall than the average.

This year's storm season also brought the most named storms since 2015 and even though the extreme conditions have become calmer, farmers crops are still being decimated by the effects.

Mr Collins - whose family have farmed on the same land for more than a hundred years - says he has now given up trying to grow crops on some of his fields for the first time

"In the Autumn we were pulling seeds out of the ground and they had just gone to mush because they had just rotted away in the ground," Mr Collins said.

"It probably cost us around £100,000 in lost income."

It's not just vulnerable crops that can't cope, lambs are struggling to survive the wet weather too.

Released back into the fields between 24 and 48-hours-old, the churned wet soil is too thick for the newborn lambs to walk in, causing them to become stuck and die.

Livestock farmers are also struggling with the wet soil as lambs get stuck and die in the mud. Credit: ITV News

Mathew Issac, a sheep farmer in Wales, says he's lost 30 livestock so far.

"Anything that's a little bit weak they fall by the wayside," he told ITV News.

"You're picking up dead lambs in the morning then, so it's not good."

The government is now offering a Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers who've suffered uninsurable damage from severe flooding.

Grants between £500 and £25,000 will be given to those who are eligible, but it is not being offered across the country.

Tom Collins said the soil is currently too soft to plant his crops in. Credit: ITV News

Currently, grants are only available where the Flood Recovery Framework has already been activated to help farms that the government says have experienced the highest levels of flooding.

These are Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, West Northamptonshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.

But there are criticisms about the scheme as it's not available across the country and for those who are eligible, they say not enough money is being given and farmers won't receive it in time for it to help.

Tom Collins told ITV News that government grants have come 'too late' and 'financially aren't enough'

Many whose fields are still submerged say they're struggling to keep their businesses afloat, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) say a rise in food prices is now inevitable.

Jack Watts, Head of Economics Strategy at the AHDB, said: "If we don't make enough wheat here, we have to rely more on imports and that increases costs for manufacturers."

There are concerns that this could lead to food shortages after losing winter crops and an inability to plant so far during this season, but it's not deemed likely yet.

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