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UK flooding impact on agricultural commodities

February 22, 2014

Persistent heavy rains across southern England have led to severe flooding in the South West of England, with an estimated cost to insurers of up to £1billion according to Deloitte LLP. The Environment Agency has a total of sixteen severe flood warnings, with a further 133 flood warnings in place after two months of record-breaking levels of rainfall. Forecasts suggest that the pattern of heavy rains will continue until February 21st.
In addition to the 7500 homes flooded since December, another 600 have been flooded in the past week alone. On top of this, large tracts of land in the South West, particularly along river basins and coastlines have also been flooded. Farmers in the South West have been hit especially hard, and many hundreds of acres of crops have been devastated in Norfolk and Somerset. Somerset, in particular, has seen 150 properties evacuated since Christmas. Many villages have been cut off and local authorities, charities and neighbours have been working to evacuate livestock from farms as floodwaters rise. As storms and tidal surges continue to buffet the United Kingdom, damage is likely to increase yet further.
Large tracts of agricultural land having been flooded, agricultural yields are likely to be impacted in low-lying South Western farms, with most farmers being forced to wait out the bad weather and hoping that flood waters will subside or that the government will finally be able to get flooding under control.
According to an update by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles given to Parliament on Monday, military aid and funding for flood measures will continue as the Rivers Thames, Severn and We are set to flood in the middle of the week. Pickles was criticized for a controversial statement on Sunday where he appeared to criticize the Environment Agency’s handling of the flooding crisis. It was claimed that Pickles was merely seeking a scapegoat to disguise the government’s own failings in dealing with the crisis.
Regardless of the political infighting, it is clear that UK flooding is at disastrous levels and is only likely to get worse in the coming days. Farmers in the South West and even South East are likely to be severely impacted with further damage to their lands, and supplies are therefore likely to be impacted.
There is likely to be some interest in this news by those involved in commodities trading, as the disastrous damage is likely to cause a spike in the prices of UK-manufactured agricultural commodities. In 2012 the US Midwest suffered a record-breaking drought which pushed corn and soy prices up by more than 50% in five weeks, to near record highs. While the impact in the UK is likely to be much milder, there is not likely to be insubstantial price movement.

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