Farming community rallies for Somerset flood victims

THE UK farming community is rallying to collect and deliver fodder to farmers in the Somerset Levels.

Farmers have taken to social media to organise deliveries of feed and silage.

The NFU has also opened its fodder bank to allow farmers to find feed and bedding or sell any surplus.

Hundreds of animals have been evacuated from the Levels where some areas have been flooded for nearly two months.

Farming charities including the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) are poised to give emergency grants to help farmers and farm workers through the crisis.

RABI chief executive Paul Burrows said: “We are contacting those people in the area we have supported in the past to ask if we can provide additional help.

“We haven’t had many new applications yet because, as we usually find in a crisis, people are currently working every hour of the day, doing all they can to care for their livestock and protect their property and not yet dealing with its financial impact on them and their family.

“We expect more calls to come in when the immediate crisis is over and people start to take stock of the situation and how it affects their future income, viability and welfare.”

The charity is also working closely with the Farm Community Network (FCN) to deliver aid to farmers in need.

Mr Burrows added: “In readiness for more calls we have fast-tracked our application process to make it easier and quicker for us to get money to eligible people, whether they are currently working in the industry, or are retired from farming and are also affected.”

The Royal Bath and West Society which began fundraising for flood maintenance work last year also appealed for donations as part of its 20-year plan.

The group hopes to raise between £2m and £3m by the end of this year.

A spokesman said the Government’s pledge of £130m to build and repair flood defences was welcome but more must be done.  

He said: “This combination of short-term government action and our long-term plan means Somerset now has the best opportunity it has had for many years to beat the menace of flooding and the damage it causes on the Levels – but we need the help of all the people in Somerset to help us raise the necessary cash and ensure the success of this project.”

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