The Prince’s Countryside Fund has launched an urgent appeal to the public to donate funds to help British farmers in financial crisis.

The charity has reported an increasing need for financial help from farmers, many of whom have suffered severe losses with the recent heavy snowfall.

Huge losses of lambs and breeding stock has meant many farmers are unable to afford to dispose of carcasses. It is estimated that 50,000 farm animals have died as a result of the snowstorms in March.

The charity released its emergency fund of more than £500,000 earlier this spring to the farming charities RABI, RSABI, the Addington Fund, Farm Community Network and Rural Support, and is now asking the public to donate what they can to replenish the fund.

In response, Prince Charles has personally agreed to donate £50,000 from his charitable foundation, the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

Lord Curry, trustee of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: “Farmers continue to count the cost of 12 months of terrible weather and the true scale of the crisis is yet to be revealed.

“The weather has affected all agricultural sectors still struggling to cope with the effect of one of the wettest years on record and a late spring.

“Many hill and sheep farmers have suffered terrible lamb yields, as they lost valuable hefted stock and new lambs in the spring blizzards. Worse still is the Schmallenberg virus, which had some farmers losing up to 80% of their flocks.”

He added: “People will look outside to the fresh green fields and think we’re over the worst, but the reality is this will have a long-term knock-on effect. Many farmers will struggle to find the money to put diesel in their tractors this summer.

“Farming faces an uncertain future, in an uncertain economy. We need to ensure that those who look after the land and rear our food are able to continue to preserve the family farm for generations to come.”

* Text PCF to 70300 for a £3 donation or donate online at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk or at the Post Office

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