Flooding, disease, food shortages - we could be talking about a Third World country hit by a monsoon rather than Oxfordshire. The deluge that hit the county in July meant that although farmers and contractors were ready for harvesting, the ground became so water-logged in many fields, it was unworkable, so they were unable to gather their corn.

Crops, many of which had stood in several inches of water, could not be harvested until the water had drained away and the land had dried sufficiently to allow machinery to be used.

At least one farm contractor said that he had men and machinery standing by for more than a week, because it was impossible to get on to the land without doing severe damage to the soil.

Combine harvesters and tractors in very wet fields compact the ground and this damages the soil structure, resulting in poor movement of nutrients. All of this would cause extra work and expense for the farmer to correct the damage.

Recent dry weather, however, has allowed harvest work to proceed and although yields per acre and the quality is variable, the issues with the world market for grain has increased the price the farmer can achieve.

These issues include the drought in Australia, the heavy use of crops in America for non-food uses (such as biofuels) along with the impact of the weather across Europe with hot, dry conditions damaging crops and reducing output.

Meanwhile, the rest of the continent experienced similar conditions to the UK with heavy rainfall reducing both quality and yields.

The improvement in prices is most welcome to those who grow the crops concerned, but other businesses - for example pig farmers - will not be so pleased, as it directly pushes up the price of food stuffs.

If UK production costs rise, major supermarkets may seek to source some meat products from other parts of the world, where production methods are less regulated and hence lower cost.

This is not good for UK consumers, who are increasingly concerned with food miles, nor for UK producers, who will see prices they receive held down, despite an increase in their own production costs.

The wet weather and flooding has also had an impact on livestock farmers.

Many farmers in areas where the flooding hit worst, for example in West Oxfordshire, had to move sheep and cattle to higher ground for the safety of their animals, and to ensure livestock had access to enough grass that was not under water.

Another badly affected group was fruit and vegetable growers. One local producer highlighted: l There has been a reduction in potatoes this year, as potato crops under water for more than a day rot and eventually die. Potato growers have seen a reduction in yields to around 10 tonnes per acre from an expected 15-20 tonnes.

There is also likely to be a shortage of organic potatoes because of potato blight.

l Apple growers have also experienced problems, caused by a lack of sunlight, rather than directly by rain. As a result, the apples used for juicing have not been as sweet this year.

l Vegetable producers have also been unable to plant winter vegetables, such as sprouts and winter cabbage, which will mean a shortage and subsequent price rises for the consumer.

On the upside, soft fruits - such as strawberries and raspberries - have been largely unaffected by the wet weather as most were grown in protective polytunnels.

However, pick-your-own' farms saw a reduction in customers coming to pick fruit, but it has been easier work for seasonable workers to pick enough for the farm shops and other key customers in the cooler weather.

But the overall message is clear. Flood management will become increasingly important - our climate is changing and we all have to adapt to more extreme weather conditions.

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has responded to the recent floods by making grants available to those affected.

Up to £2,500 per business has been made available to help with the recovery process.

For more information contact Business Link on 0845 600 9006.

n Contact: Bill Jestico, 01235 553333, bjestico@critchleys.co.uk