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Farmers struggling to feed animals

Many farmers are struggling to feed their animals after one of the worst harvests on record and according to one of the country’s leading rural charities, the situation is likely to get worse.

Ian Bell, Director of the Addington Fund, which helps house homeless farming families in England and Wales, says many farmers are running out of animal feed and the cost is soaring.

“ We see major problems ahead. Thousands of acres are still under water which means farmers have been unable to plant next year’s crops.”

Sheep farmers are being especially hard hit with the start of the lambing season now getting under way and with market prices depressed because of the financial crisis in Europe.

Grain yields are down around 14% meaning more has to be imported while the price of hay and straw has rocketed.

“We are having to re-house a farming family every 56 days,” says Ian Bell who is urging famers to try and do more to help themselves.

He says many, particularly those with cattle should consider selling stock now rather than waiting for the traditional time in April.

“ The market for store cattle in very buoyant and one option may be to sell some cattle now which would save on the amount of bedding straw and feed needed over the winter months.”

His biggest fear is that some families would rather go without food themselves than see their animals suffer.

Now the Addington Fund is working on setting up an emergency relief scheme aimed at helping farmers feed their animals.

Details are expected to revealed in London at a special Plough Wednesday day on January 16 when St Paul’s Cathedral hosts a series of events to highlight the farming year.

“It’s a way of showing the City where their food comes from and how it’s produced,” says Ian Bell.

During the day there will be an exhibition of modern farming methods outside the Cathedral including state of the art machinery with representatives of many rural organisations present including the National Farmer’s Union and the Country Landowners Association as well as land agents and food retailers.

“This is an opportunity to showcase farming for many people who have little idea about the real cost of their food which we all take for granted,” says Ian Bell.


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