UK farmers' send aid to peers affected by flooding crisis

Farmers have rallied round their peers in Somerset with donations of fodder, being transported there in a 10-hour operation

Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association
Chris Mallon, chief executive of the National Beef Association

Chief executive of the Hexham-based National Beef Association Chris Mallon has received many calls from people anxious about the cattle on the Somerset Levels and other areas which affected by flooding.

He said: “The main concern for all the farmers affected is the welfare of their livestock.

“Yes, there will be financial implications but this is something they will need to consider at a later stage. At this stage we all must try to help.”

The Somerset community is already supporting its livestock producers and this week a team from Sedgemoor Auction Centre, near Bridgewater, which is coordinating the transportation of cattle off farms, sent out an appeal for fodder.

This will be used to feed livestock which has been moved on to other farms or where the feed has been destroyed on farms.

There is a second appeal for donations to assist with haulage. Although many of the local hauliers are giving their time and services free of charge, additional support will also be required.

Chris added: “These areas which are being affected by flooding are home to many suckler and dairy farms and farmers need support for their livestock.

“On some farms, cattle are having to be moved to safety and on most farms grain, hay and silage stores have been destroyed or rendered inaccessible by the water.

“This has resulted in a severe shortage of feed.

“Dairy farmers are also struggling hugely as milking parlours and calf-rearing facilities, which all have electronic systems, have been totally destroyed.

“Once the water penetrates them they are effectively a write-off. The movement of cattle is being organised and co-ordinated by Sedgemoor Auction Marts who are doing fantastic job in the most difficult and emotive of conditions.”

Meanwhile, two tractors and trailers laden with livestock fodder and bedding will set off on the 225-mile journey from Wakefield to Bridgwater in Somerset in the early hours of tomorrow.

The 10-hour tractor aid run is being undertaken by Wakefield NFU member Philip Rowbottom and his neighbour Andrew Nicholson, who runs an agricultural contracting business.

The pair will drive two tractor and trailer rigs, each laden with 15 tonnes of silage, haylage, hay and straw.

The cost of the diesel is being met by local farmers and the Wakefield NFU branch and all the donatedfodder and bedding has been sourced by members of the Barugh and District Ploughing Association.

Philip said: “We wanted to take the donations by tractor and trailer to help highlight the plight of the farmers on the Somerset Levels.

“The response from the local farming community has been amazing – in fact it only took a day to get more than we needed for a single load.

“Hopefully our journey will help highlight the solidarity we all feel with those farmers in Somerset who are facing such tough times.

“Yorkshire has had its fair share of severe flooding, so we know only too well the heartbreak it can bring.

“Seeing the situation develop over recent days in Somerset left many of us wanting to help and show just how the farming industry can respond.

“I personally don’t have any fodder or bedding to offer, but what I do have is the time to drive a load and actually it’s often the logistics of getting donations to where they are needed that’s the difficult bit.

“I am absolutely delighted to see such a generous response fromthe local farming community and hope it really will help those caught up in this tragic situation.”

NFU regional director Richard Pearson added: “The NFU is working round the clock to provide direct support to our members in the South West and to help co-ordinate the crisis response on the ground.

“In the North East, our members have really risen to the challenge, with donations ranging from feed and bedding, through to the offer of dry ground in the form of rearing facilities for beef cattle.

“Having been through the mill themselves with flooding and other weather-related crises – such as last spring when lambing was so badly affected by snow – it’s clear they want to reciprocate this year.

“Such is the scale of the situation in the wake of these floods that support will be needed for hard-hit farmers for months to come, so it is vital the relief effort is maintained.”

Anyone who wants to help can find out more at the website www.NFUOnline.com.

Offers of support, fodder or donations can also made by contacting Sedgemoor Auction Centre, tel: 01278 410278.

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