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    Flood payouts defended by farming minister

    NewsFriday 03 October 2014
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    George Eustice, the minister for farming, has spoken out in defence of the speed at which the flood recovery payouts were made. A number of Somerset farmers have described these payouts as frustrating and complex. 
     
    So far only £233,000 of the £5.5m applied for has been handed out. This money is coming out of the £10m national Defra fund. 
     
    Mr Eustice told the BBC that they had to get the receipts in before they were able to pay out the recovery payments. 
     
    One farmer had problems getting the funding that he duly deserved due to Defra demanding more photographic evidence to prove the effects the floods had on his farm. 
     
    This was despite his farm being featured in national media coverage of the floods and the fact that farmer James Winslade had sent off all the maps and photos. 
     
    "They were aerial photos of my parents' farmhouse, my farmhouse which are 300 yards apart and a vast amount of area of land with no green grass showing at all, completely submerged.” Said Mr Winslade. 
     
    "Out of the 840 acres we farm here, 810 was under water."
     
    He applied for £9,000 in order to pay for grass seed, back in April, however, he only received the money this week. 
     
    Speaking of Mr Winslade’s case, Mr Eustice said that Defra didn’t have all of the required information to be able to pay out. 
     
    He did also say: "We went the extra mile, sent a Defra official out there to meet him and process the claim, and he's been paid now."
     
    The NFU spoke about the issues surrounding the payments, saying that many people had found the process complicated. 
     
    A spokesperson from the union said: “A more straightforward process would have encouraged farmers to utilise the fund, reduced their frustration and meant the money could have got to where it is needed more quickly.”
     
    Four hundred and fifty three applications have been made and a total of £5.5m has been claimed. £4.8m has been approved so far by Defra, who claimed that receipts worth £372,000 have been received so far nationally.  
     
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