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Cirencester based Royal Agriculture University students support Somerset farmers hit by severe floods

PUBLISHED: 10:36 20 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:36 20 February 2014

Students from the Royal Agricultural University have been helping farmers worst affected by severe flooding in the Somerset levels by supporting the #forageaid and #clubhectare campaign, organised by farmer and former RAU student Jonathan Dixon.

RAU students have been showing their support by delivering essential supplies to farmers in desperate need of straw, silage and animal feed. One student has already delivered a trailer of straw, and another has offered two/three loads of silage from his family farm and prompted the neighbouring farm to do the same.

Tom Warren, studying BSc (Hons) Agricultural Management at the University, has been involved in the national #forageaid flooding appeal since it began. He said: “I’ve been a member of #clubhectare for a while, and was inspired by the help and support that #forageaid raised for snow-stricken farmers in the North West last year. I decided that this time, I wanted to be involved and offer my support. I’ve been ringing round lots of companies and asking them for straw, silage, and most importantly haulage to cover it all. It’s about supporting the farming community, and pulling together to provide aid to those who need it most.

“The most important thing is to keep the aid going. It’s vital now, and it would be great if everyone could donate anything they have to spare, but it’s also important to remember that it needs to continue for the weeks, and months, ahead. I’d encourage anyone that wants to donate to consider future pledges, offering donations of straw, bedding, and silage that can be taken up in the future.”

#forageaid and #clubhectare is a high-profile twitter campaign coordinating vital aid for flood-stricken farmers in the Somerset levels; including everything from food, wheat, straw and silage to clothing, waterproofs and wellies, as well as fuel donations and financial support.

Jonathan Dixon, #clubhectare founder and aid coordinator, said:

“Having been made aware of the continuous rise in flooding levels, #clubhectare wanted to help supply Somerset farmers with forage that would at least help them feed their stock. We’ve been using #forageaid to appeal for aid, and the feed and bedding has been pouring in. The response has been so overwhelming, that we’ve actually had to suspend deliveries for the next seven days!

“The situation in Somerset is devastating, but the attitude and determination of the farmers is unbelievable. This crisis isn’t going to be over for a long while, when the floods subside there will be no grass or crops left to graze or harvest, so fodder will be required for at least the next 12 months.”

Chris Brough is an RAU lecturer in Animal Production Management, and has been helping to coordinating the students’ involvement. He said:

“The students’ response so far has been very impressive. With strategically intelligent use of social media they have mobilised and generated a network of families and friends; their actions are borne out of an inherent responsibility to the industry and farming communities to provide not just empathy but direct physical actions and support. This has manifested itself in offers of physical and logistical support to provide all manner of supplies to maintain the health and welfare of livestock.

To donate money or see how you can help, visit www.nfuonline.com/news/latest-news/flooding-how-you-can-help. You can also show your support by using #forageaid and #clubhectare on Twitter.

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