James Winslade© Geoff Pagotto

Clean-up on farms devastated by Storm Desmond could last more than a year, Somerset flood survivor James Winslade fears.

Mr Winslade, a trustee on the board of the Forage Aid charity, says up to 300 farmers in Cumbria and north Lancashire have suffered serious flood damage to their businesses.

“We are getting lots of reports of losses of animals,” said Mr Winslade, whose farm, West Yeo, on the Somerset Levels, was under water for nearly three months after the 2013-14 winter floods.

“Farmers are going to need forage and straw where they cannot graze their animals, which is where Forage Aid can help.”

See also: Video – Treacherous boat trip to abandoned flood farm

The flooding in areas of Cumbria and north Lancashire destroyed rural roads, leaving farmers cut off from livestock.

Nine market sites in the region have been set up to accommodate deliveries and fodder to send to farmers to feed cattle and sheep marooned on land surrounded by floodwaters.

Pastures will likely recover more quickly than they did in Somerset, unless they have had a wash with silt, he added. But some fields will need to be reseeded, at a cost.

“If your home has been flooded, it takes between six to 12 months before you can return”
James Winslade, Somerset farmer

Mr Winslade, whose cattle were saved by forage donated by well-wishers, said the damage on the worst affected farms could take more than a year to repair.

“If your home has been flooded, it takes between six to 12 months before you can return,” he added.

“It is a huge burden on people who have lost their businesses.”

He called on the government to provide grants to help farmers reinstate lost buildings and stonewalls.

“Unless you have got support from the government, charities and the community, it’s a struggle to keep going,” he said.

“But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It does get better.”

Help is at hand for flood-hit farmers

Defra

Farmers in Cumbria and north Lancashire can claim up to £20,000 to help restore damaged agricultural land. The Farming Recovery Fund aims to help farmers restore productive grassland, recover productive arable and horticultural land, restore farm vehicle access and repair agricultural drainage. For details, call the Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301.

Forage Aid

Flood-hit farmers in need of forage or livestock feed should call 07967 219 991. People wishing to donate forage or haulage to farmers should use the pledge system at www.forageaid.org.uk.

Financial donations can be made at via  Forage Aid’s JustGiving page.

Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (Rabi) has fast-tracked its application process to get money to people facing financial difficulty.

Call Rabi’s confidential free helpline on 0808 281 9490 or email grants@rabi.org.uk. To donate, visit Rabi’s website.

Prince’s Countryside Fund

The fund has released £40,000 from its coffers. The charity has also launched Flood Appeal 2015. To make a £3 donation, text PCF to 70300, donate online via the Prince’s Countryside Fund’s online donation page or at the Post Office or send a cheque to the Prince’s Countryside Fund, 137 Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7RQ.

Cumbria Community Foundation

The foundation is working with voluntary organisations to provide initial hardship grants of £500 to local people affected by the floods in Cumbria.

To apply for support, call 01900 825 760 or visit the Cumbria Community Foundation’s webpage

Natural England

The agency has temporarily lifted requirements that apply to Environmental Stewardship agreements and protected land including Sites of Special Scientific Interest. For details, call Natural England on 03000 600 011.

Not sure where to turn?

If you are unsure where to turn, call the Farming Help Hotline 03000 111 999 (7am to 11pm).