Wet weather costs countryside £1bn

The rainy summer has hit revenues and pushed costs up

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This year’s washout weather could cost the countryside more than £1bn, according to BBC One’s Countryfile.

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Farmers have watched yields fall and costs rise, tourist attractions have seen visitor numbers slump and events have been cancelled in the face of the wettest summer for more than 100 years.

Farmers’ losses were put at more than £600 million, with poor crops, higher vet bills and extra feed costs taking their toll.

Gary Rogers, who runs Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream, has seen tubs stacking up in the freezer of his on-farm dairy as customers shivered in the cold.

“It’s been a catastrophic year – worse than anybody’s known,” he said. “We’re 50% down on last year and last year was worse than the one before.”

His wife, Mandy, who runs a beef herd, has seen soggy fields damage cattle hooves and drive vet bills upwards – plus been forced to buy feed as it’s been too wet to put stock out to pasture. “This year was just a mud-bath really,” she said.

Information from tourist bodies like the National Trust, English Nature, Historic Scotland and the Camping and Caravanning Club shows visitor numbers to have dropped by as much 12%, cutting another £478m off rural revenues.

Cash was also lost as rain and flooding forced the cancellation of popular events and festivals.

The Great Yorkshire Show was one of those to suffer – it was abandoned in July after the first of its planned three days, a decision the organisers described as “heartbreaking”.

Countryfile presenter Tom Heap said: “Whether it is rambling or rearing animals, the USP of rural Britain is the outdoor life – and this summer that life has been hard to make pay.

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“The bill may yet spread to shoppers as poor harvests push up food prices.”