County Durham farmers plan rescue mission to help flooded farms

A group of County Durham farmers plan to collect much-needed resources for farmers in Somerset affected by the large-scale floods currently gripping the South West county

A trailer loaded with haylage, sileage, hay and straw on farmland

A group of County Durham farmers plan to collect much-needed resources for farmers in Somerset affected by the large-scale floods currently gripping the South West county.

Tim Sedgewick of Ricknall Grange Farm, Henry Hutchinson of Red Gap Farm and Ben Layfield of Holland Hall Farm have joined forces to co-ordinate a collection of livestock forage and bedding for Somerset and are asking local farmers and hauliers throughout County Durham and North Yorkshire for assistance.

A range of companies, including Tesco and Armstrong Richardson Agri, have offered to transport any donated fodder and straw to Sedgemoor Auction Market where an operation is under way to distribute it to those farmers that badly need it to keep their livestock going. The distributions are being led by NFU South West to help farmers such as James Winslade who has had to move all his cattle from his flooded West Yeo Farm.

His feed for the animals is now ruined under 2ft of water and he has lost 7,800 bales of hay and 3,000 bales of straw.

James said: “We couldn’t get lorries on to the farm, the water came up so quick. You can’t get 4x4s down here any more either.

“We’ve been shipping cattle out using tractors and trailers and loading them on to lorries on the main road.”

He said all his cattle-handling facilities were knee-deep in water. Silage on the farm was in almost 2ft of water too, he added.

James’s story is one of many from the West Country where flood water has ruined farmland and threatened the lives of farm animals.

Many farmers will now struggle to feed their livestock all year as the flood water has stood for so long that grass and crops will have stopped growing.

The North East rescue mission was originally scheduled for March 6 but after speaking with contacts from Somerset, Tim, Henry and Ben have agreed an alternative date of Tuesday, March 11.

Bales of hay, haylage, straw or silage will now be collected at 10am at Church Quarry, near Newton Aycliffe village, DL5 6NB, by kind permission of John Wade.

Tim said: “We hope all the people who have donated thus far are able to do this new date.

“Henry, Ben and myself have been overwhelmed by the support shown by the North East farming community for their Somerset counterparts.

“They are all extremely grateful for the ongoing support and have asked me to pass on their sincerest thanks – their morale really is being boosted by this collective spirit across the country.

“The donations really are making a huge difference to the situation on the ground for livestock farmers, although they have advised that small conventional bales are becoming difficult to handle when delivered.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the County Durham collection is asked to contact Tim Sedgewick (07766 104999), Henry Hutchinson (07821 422922) or Ben Layfield (07917 611483) to allow them to arrange suitable transport.

Other ways of donating to the Somerset farming crisis:

  • Go to fcn.org.uk or call the hotline on 0845 367 9990.
  • The Addington Fund has opened a special Somerset Flooding Appeal (www.addingtonfund.org.uk/)
  • Donate to RABI (www.rabi.org.uk/) or the Somerset Community Foundation emergency flood relief fund.
  • The Royal Bath & West Society set up The Somerset Levels Relief Fund in September 2013 with the aim of raising funds towards dredging in the area. Make a donation on 01749 822200 or through their Just Giving page.

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