Farmers who suffered flood damage in the worst hit areas of Cumbria have responded to an industry led survey and the results are staggering.
Approximately 1,000 farmers were contacted by the Cumbrian Farm Flood Action Group with 144 of them reporting a collective £1.7 million in losses. Defra has estimated that 650 Cumbrian farms were affected by storm damage, meaning the survey represents detailed information from a third of those farms. Data collection was funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund, the survey was conducted by The Farmer Network and Westmorland Agricultural Society with analysis carried out by the NFU.
Of the 1,000 farmers contacted, 220 of them completed a detailed survey and the findings have now been analysed.
- 63% of those surveyed lost sections of watercourse bank sides
- 37% have lost walls
- 14% have lost hedgerows
- 38 farmers reported 701 sheep deaths between them and in addition 16 farmers reported a total of 189 sheep missing
- 53% reported river stone/gravel deposit and 22% have had land slips
David Hall, NFU North West Regional Director, said: “This survey shows us clearly the impact of the storms and what farmers face in terms of immediate recovery. In the longer term farmers face higher costs as stock will need to be fed with bought in fodder. It’s also highly likely that forage yields will be low this year.
“The NFU is working alongside others to ensure that farmers are supported through this challenging time. Policy and practices must be reviewed to find more resilient ways of managing flood risk. Our approach must be catchment based and look at all interventions resulting in sufficient and well placed flood alleviation actions across the area.”
Despite the difficulties related to persistently dreadful weather conditions over the festive period and beyond, a total of 15 Farmer Network coordinators, including a team from Westmorland Agricultural Society, made contact with farmers as part of the survey.
Adam Day, Managing Director of The Farmer Network said: “The results of the survey can now be used to help flood affected farm businesses with not only flood recovery issues, but also essential future flood planning and mitigation. Farmers want to have much more hands on involvement in managing catchment areas, on and near to, their land than has been allowed in the past.”
Georgina Lamb, R.A.B.I’s regional manager for the North West, says the extent of the problem will begin to unfold over the forthcoming months.
“The long-term impact and size of the problem is far greater than anticipated. Coupled with late BPS payments and dreadful milk prices, the flooding has been the final straw for many farmers. You cannot negotiate with or predict the weather and I have seen huge devastation across Cumbria in particular.
“Cumbria is a resilient county with great community spirit. It has been very encouraging to see farming organisations working together to help those in need.”