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225-mile 'tractor aid' run to help stricken Somerset farmers

Two tractors and trailers carrying livestock fodder and bedding for stricken Somerset farmers are due to make the 225-mile journey from Wakefield to Bridgwater in the early hours of Thursday morning (February 13).

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

 

The pair will drive two tractor and trailer rigs – each laden with 15 tonnes of silage, haylage, hay and straw - in a bid to raise awareness of the problems facing farmers hit by the Somerset floods.

 

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

 

“We deliberately wanted to take the donations by tractor and trailer to help highlight the plight of farmers so desperately in need on the Somerset Levels,” said Mr Rowbottom.

 

“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.

 

“The fact that Andrew Nicholson has offered to accompany me with a second load is superb as it means we will be able to take everything donated so far.

 

“Hopefully our journey will help highlight the solidarity we all feel with those farmers in Somerset who are facing such tough times. We hope drivers will give us a hoot on their horns when they see us en route to spur us on.”

 

He said Yorkshire had suffered its fair share of severe flooding, so farmers there were aware of the ‘heart-break 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,” he said.

 

NFU regional director Richard Pearson said: “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, as in this instance, through to the offer of dry ground in the form of rearing facilities for beef cattle.”

 

As of Tuesday morning, the Environment Agency has issued 374 flood warnings and alerts across the UK, including 16 ‘severe’ warnings, indicating danger to life. Fourteen of those are along a stretch of the River Thames in Berkshire and Surrey, with two remaining in Somerset.

 

This Environment Agency map shows the locations where Flood Alerts, Flood Warnings or Severe Flood Warnings are in force.

 

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of rain covering much of the country, with an amber warning for the South West.

 


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How to support Somerset’s farmers

There are various ways to support farmers hit by the Somerset floods.

  • The NFU has opened its fodder bank to allow farmers to find feed and bedding or sell any surplus. For details on how to use it click here
  • You can drop off forage for flood-hit farmers at Sedgemoor Livestock Market, off J24 of the M5, TA6 6DF. Call 01278 410278 to arrange a delivery time. Rebecca Horsington (@RHorsington on Twitter) is helping to co-ordinate deliveries and can be emailed on rhorsington@hotmail.com
  • If you are a haulier or you want to offer fodder or hay to flooded farmers in the South West, send @Wheat_Daddy a tweet on the Twitter website.
  • The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) is preparing to provide emergency grants to help farmers and farm workers through the crisis. It is working closely with the Farm Community Network (FCN) to deliver aid to farmers in need.
  • For information on how to make a donation to RABI visit www.rabi.org.uk If you need help call 0300 303 7373 or email grants@rabi.org.uk
  • Farmers Guardian is currently raising money for RABI with our ‘booze-free February’, supported by a range of industry figures, to celebrate our 170th birthday. To donate click here
  • The Royal Bath and West Society which began fundraising for flood maintenance work last year is also appealing for donations as part of its 20-year plan. The group hopes to raise between £2m and £3m by the end of this year.
  • Donations can be sent to Just Giving on the Royal Bath and West website www.bathandwest.com

 

How are you helping? Please comment below if there are any other ways to support Somerset farmers or just to leave a message of support.

 

 

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