Wettest summer costs rural businesses £1bn


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The Independent Online

Rural Britain is counting the £1bn cost of the wettest summer in a century, new research revealed yesterday.

The extent of the damage on the countryside economy has been tallied by BBC One's Countryfile programme, which analysed data from businesses, insurers and event organisers.

Farmers, tourist attractions and campsites are among those badly affected by the wettest summer since records began in 1910, which has heavily impacted upon harvests, ravaged tourism and runied events.

Standing out among the bleak figures was the impact on agriculture, with an estimated £600m loss in the sector. Damp weather slows the ripening of some fruit and vegetables and has resulted in low yields as crops rot diseases spread. Meanwhile extra feed to replace ruined supplies has meant additional costs for livestock farmers.

The difficulties faced by farmers are already being felt by consumers, as the cost of homegrown food rises. Carrots, salad leaves and tomatoes have shot up in cost by almost 50 per cent in the last year and bread is soon expected to be dearer due to rises in wholesale wheat prices.

The heavy rainfall and cold weather also contributed to reduced visitor numbers to countryside attractions such as stately homes. Statistics from bodies including the National Trust, English Nature, Historic Scotland and the Camping and Caravanning Club together show visitors down by 12 per cent, hitting revenues by approximately £478m.