In their own words: The farming community on the Somerset floods

The whole rural community is pulling together as farmers continue to battle rising flood water.

Johann Tasker met those helping with the aid effort on the Somerset Levels.

“It’s very heartening and very humbling. All of us at the end of the day reflect on everything and all of us have cried a lot because you realise how wonderful people are.”
Naomi Parker, NFU Group Secretary, who has helped coordinate offers of help from across the farming community.
“When farms started being evacuated, it was all hands to the pump. You do what you can. It’s not just us, it’s been a real team effort between everyone.”
Robert Venner, Auctioneer, Greenslade Taylor Hunt, who provided temporary accommodation for cattle from flooded farms at Sedgemoor Livestock Centre.
“It’s shocking – the rain is one thing but the high tides are another. They’re making a bad situation worse. It’s good that everyone is pulling together, but that’s how it has always been.”
Steve Cade, Cambridgeshire farmer, who drove more than 4 hours to deliver a lorry load of beet to Bridgwater market from Lord de Ramsey’s farm at Abbots Ripton.
“We need to keep up the momentum. Even if it stopped raining now, it would still take months for the water to disappear. We could be in this situation for a long time.”
Nathan Ponsillo, Farmer & Operations Manager at Junction 24, which is acting as a delivery and collection point for donated livestock feed, forage and bedding
“It has been amazing. I don’t know what to say. Everyone has pulled together – farmers, ag dealers, market staff, everybody. It’s just incredible.”
Graham Glasper, who works at Staple Farm, Staple Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset.
“It’s like there’s a war on and everybody is roping together. I like to think as a nation we are pretty spirited and when the chips are down, everyone mucks in.”
Justin Nichols, managing director of Compass Tractors, which has supplied tractors, trailers and drivers to deliver feed and bedding to farms.
“The forage aid we arranged with Club Hectare spurred me to come. I never expected to be here, to be honest. But it’s what you do.”
Yorkshire farmer and Club Hectare co-founder Jono Dixon, who helped raise £600 and drove from his farm near Hull to assist with the aid effort.
“We’re a local business and our farmers are right in the thick of it. When you go home at night and you’ve a dry house and warm bed, you realise how lucky you are.”
Richard Phelps, ABP UK director and managing director of Blade Farming, which has helped house cattle for flood-hit farmers.
“The farming community has been amazing. We’ve lost absolutely everything this time. It’s six foot deep in places.”
Moorland farmer James Winslade, who was forced to evacuate 550 cattle and send them to seven dry farms after flood water engulfed his cattle sheds.
“I’m from a farming background – these people are my friends and colleagues. We have 100 acres under water but it is nothing compared to these guys.”
Relief milker and farm secretary Rebecca Horsington, who is a founder member of the Flooding on the Levels Action Group and helping coordinate donations.
“This is my community – we wanted to do all we could to help. The whole community has been affected and the farmers put meat on my shelves.”
Rob Gerred-Hart, who manages the Asda store at Bridgwater, which has set up a relief fund and organised food parcels and clothing.

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