Emergency donations of forage are being sent to snow-hit hill farmers as a gesture of solidarity from lowland arable producers hundreds of miles away.
Some 600 bales of haylage and silage – worth in the region of £25,000 – are being sent free of charge to farms facing forage shortages following the coldest March for 51 years. The shipments to farms in north-west England and Wales are being organised by eastern region growers.
Over the coming weeks, more than 150t of silage and haylage will be transported across the Pennines. The first lorry load left Lincolnshire for Cumbria on Monday (22 April). Others will follow from counties including Berkshire, Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Northamptonshire.
The mission is the brainchild of Lincolnshire grower Andrew Ward. He said he felt compelled to act after seeing footage of farmers who lost hundreds of sheep in last month’s snow storms. Having seen livestock perish, many of those producers now face forage shortages.
Mr Ward said: “No matter what sort of hardships our local arable boys are going through at the moment, it is nothing compared to the heartache and hardship they are facing in the hills. I just couldn’t sit back here and watch people suffer like that without trying to do something.”
Realising he had 50 bales of unsold haylage, the former Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year decided he would try to send it to Cumbria. “I was going to sell it, but I decided they needed it more than I did. The idea has snowballed and now eight other farmers are doing the same, too.”
The biggest problem is logistics, said Mr Ward. “We have farmers who are willing to donate forage and some even have their own lorries. But they are understandably reluctant to drive empty from Lincolnshire to Kent to pick up a half load.”
The first shipment was transported free by Househam Sprayers. “They didn’t hesitate when I asked,” said Mr Ward. “But it would be unfair to expect them to transport the whole lot, so I’m contacting other hauliers in the hope they will be able to help, too.”
If you would like to donate forage to snow-hit farmers, please email firstname.lastname@example.org