Cows in flooded field© FLPA/Rex Shutterstock

Details of a government-backed flood recovery fund are expected to be published on the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) website from today (18 December).

Some 600 flood-affected farms have been identified so far in Cumbria and the surrounding counties.

Defra said it was preparing to publish full details on how those farms could to apply to the recovery fund – including application forms, guidance and detailed criteria.

“We are continuing to gather information on effects on the ground so final figures of the numbers of farms affected will become clearer over the coming weeks,” said an agency spokesman.

Eligible farmers will be able to claim grants of £500-£20,000 to cover the cost of restoring their farmland.

See also: Stewardship rules eased for flood-hit farmers

Before applying, applicants are urged to take photos of the flood damage as quickly as possible and to submit these in support of their application.

The scheme will be available to farmers affected by Storm Desmond in Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland.

It will remain open until 18 March 2016. Grants will help farmers restore agricultural production where they have suffered uninsurable losses.

The fund will cover the restoration of productive stock proof grassland, productive arable and horticultural land, the restoration of field access, track ways, fencing, gates and water troughs and the drainage on flood-damaged holdings.

It will also cover damage to agricultural machinery and agricultural buildings

Funding would include re-siting or relocation on the basis of improved positioning away from river edges, raising parapets or relocating to a less vulnerable access point in the field.

Applications will be processed as a matter of urgency.

The RPA said it would work closely with other parts of Defra, such as Natural England, to ensure all relevant factors were considered quickly and claims settled promptly.

Farmers will be able to claim retrospectively for essential work carried out from 5-18 December 2015, such as securing the area for livestock.

Farmers experiencing difficulties accessing the government’s website to apply can call the Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301.