Two tractors and trailers laden with livestock fodder and bedding will set off on a 225-mile journey from Wakefield to Bridgwater in Somerset in the early hours of Thursday morning (13 February).
Update: The NFU in the South West is now appealing to the rural community in other parts of the UK not to set off on fodder ‘treks’ to help flood-stricken farmers and their stock in the region, but rather to pledge offers of fodder feed and straw by calling the South West NFU office. Find out more about how to help here.
The ten-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 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 Philip.
“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.
“Yorkshire has had its fair share of severe flooding, so we know only too well 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.
“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 from the 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, as in this instance, 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.
“There are now a number of ways that local farmers and the public can support this effort – all of which are detailed, with links, on our website.”