Storm Desmond: Farmers count cost of floods

Flood waters over Cumbrian landscape Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The NFU said farmland was "devastated" as flood waters deluged Cumbria

Farmers in Cumbria are counting the cost of Storm Desmond, which saw floods kill livestock, sweep away walls, destroy bridges and cause power cuts.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond has called for "urgent government assistance" for affected farmers.

Transport and logistics are causing significant problems, the NFU said.

That is affecting milk collections and causing concern about animal feed supplies.

Mr Raymond said: "Members have reported major incidents such as landslides which have wreaked havoc with their farmland, they have also told us of power cuts which have made running the business almost impossible, and have raised concerns about scheduled dairy collections and animal feed deliveries, which may be lost."

Among the livestock casualties was a herd of 13 goats, drowned at Ullswater.

In Langwathby, 45 in-calf heifers went missing. Most were found later, with two of them discovered several miles away at Crosby-on-Eden.

'Cut off from land'

James Robinson, who has a dairy farm near Kendal, said he had been cut off from much of his land after floodwater destroyed a bridge.

"We thought we'd future-proofed the bridge - we built it 18 inches higher than any flood we've ever seen and then built it really strong.

"Water still got in behind the foundations and washed them away.

"We are effectively cut off from 45-50 acres of our land. The force behind this tiny stream was incredible."

'Will get through'

The Rev Chris Blackshaw, who leads the Agricultural Chaplaincy for Cumbria, said farmers were determined to battle on.

He told BBC Cumbria: "I went to Penrith and Carlisle auction marts and it was very positive, very stoic, with people saying, 'We will get through this'.

"There again, I went to see a farmer at Langwathby whose 45 in-calf heifers had gone into the river. He'd been searching the river banks and managed to find 41 of them.

"The amazing part is two were found at Crosby-on-Eden, which is north of Carlisle, some 18 miles downstream I worked it out as. One was quite happily grazing on the golf course."

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