Final preparations are being made for a three-day tractor drive, which aims to raise more than £10,000 for Forage Aid, the emergency response initiative that delivers animal feed to livestock producers in times of need.
To mark a year since the worst floods in living memory forced West Country farmers to evacuate their families and livestock, the tractor and trailer will set off on a 193-mile journey from Sedgemoor, Somerset, on Monday 9 February.
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Raising money along the way, Forage Aid supporters will drive through Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire before arriving at the Energy Now Expo event in Telford, Shropshire, on Wednesday 11 February.
Cheques and pledges will be picked up along the way, with a series of stops being planned at key renewable energy companies. Energy Now director David Jacobmeyer said: We hope to smash our original target of raising £10,000 and donations are still rolling in.”
Farmer-owned agricultural purchasing group Anglia Farmers has agreed to donate £15,000 – as well as helping to build and develop a Forage Aid website. Anglia Farmers chief executive Clarke Willis will present a cheque to Forage Aid when the tractor and trailer arrive at Telford.
Forage Aid was founded in 2013 by Lincolnshire arable grower Andrew Ward after snowstorms left farmers in Wales and north-west England unable to feed their livestock. He relaunched the idea last year to help flood-hit farmers on the Somerset Levels.
Mr Ward said: “We have proved what a handful of farmers spread across the country can pull together in a time of crisis – now we need to step up another gear and offer a service where immediate aid can be co-ordinated when there’s a natural disaster.”
Forage Aid is in the process of seeking full charity status. “It’s a reality that access to funding can sometimes take months, and that rural areas and people suffer while paperwork is being processed,” said Mr Ward. “Our aim is to step in quickly and help when necessary.”
A Forage Aid Twitter account is being launched for the run. For updates, follow @forageaid.