Livestock farmers in the North West are battling “serious flooding problems” in the wake of Storm Desmond – but say it is too early to tell what damage has been done.
Storm Desmond brought heavy rainfall to the north of England and Scotland over the weekend, causing heavy flooding in some areas as already swollen rivers burst their banks.
In 2009 we had a “once in a thousand year flood” in Cumbria. Well we’re having it again now, and it’s worse. pic.twitter.com/vfpkv4e3Xd— RuslandShepherdess (@ruslandvalley) December 5, 2015
Cumbria was one of the worst hit counties, with more than a month’s worth of rainfall in 24 hours. The Environment Agency said the deluge set a new UK record.
The National Farmers Union has warned of serious flooding problems across farm in the North West, particularly Cumbria.
“Farmers in some areas have reported flood water several feet deep,” said David Hall, NFU regional director for the North West. “Farmers with livestock in affected areas are taking steps to move them to higher ground.”
Hall said it was “much too early to say” what the full impact of the flooding would be on livestock production in the area.
“We will only be able to get an idea of this once the flood waters start to subside and the true impact can be assessed,” he added.
Farmers posted images on Twitter of flooded fields, with some reporting livestock deaths. However, the latest update from Lincoln-based charity Forage Aid suggests the majority of farmers have been able to get their animals to safety.
CUMBRIA UPDATE We are still monitoring the situation in Cumbria and are in contact with people at the heart of the affected area— Forage Aid (@forageaid) December 7, 2015
“The Forage Aid Team are in hourly contact with farmers in the heart of the floods and apart from odd cases, livestock is ok at present,” it said in a statement on its website.
Heavy rain and flooding has also threatened to disrupt milk deliveries in the area. A spokesman for dairy co-op First Milk said it had experienced a “challenging weekend”, particularly in Cumbria, but hauliers and members had done “a good job re-routing tankers”, and only a handful of farms had been stopped from sending their milk out for delivery.
Meanwhile, production of dairy products by Arla did not appear to have been impacted by the floods. Hauliers had “done an amazing job”, said a spokesman, and had to date had not missed a single farm due to access issues.
“Road closures were the main issue but the collection lorries have managed to get through the water,” he said. “Given the conditions, it shows what an incredible job the drivers and depot teams have done in very difficult circumstances.”