FLOOD-hit farmers on the Somerset Levels will be able to apply for Government grants of up to £35,000, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced on a visit to the county.

Mr Paterson said the money would be available from the end of the month.

“Our farming industry contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy every year and we want to see it get back to business as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Paterson was in Somerset to discuss progress on the 20-year flood action plan for the Somerset Levels.

The document, drawn up in six weeks during the flooding, was approved by his office last month before dredging began and Somerset County Council unveiled £20million worth of proposals to prevent significant flooding on the Levels again.

The action plan was discussed during Mr Paterson's visit to County Hall in Taunton this month.

County council leader Cllr John Osman said: “We had an extremely productive meeting where we discussed the 20-year action plan and issues such as future funding and resilience.”