Archbishop backs appeal fund for farmers

The Archbishop of York has backed an appeal fund for farmers who lost livestock in the June floods.

Dr John Sentamu will ask the General Synod in York to make a collective donation to the ARC-Addington Fund.

The fund was set up in 2001 to give hardship payments to farmers affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

A spokeswoman for the fund said some farmers had livestock washed away in the deluge.

Sue Eeley, deputy director of the ARC-Addington fund, said the offer of a small cash donation acted as a "financial carrot" to bring farmers into a wider network of care and support.

"Stress, isolation and financial problems are all in the background anyway for many farmers, so something extreme, an acute problem like a flood, can be the final straw."

Launching the appeal, Dr Sentamu said the extreme weather had caused "significant misery for many farmers".

"There are already examples of 600 sheep drowned in one farm in south east Staffordshire, 350 on another in Tamworth," he said.

Farmers can be very proud and often don't wish to seek help, said Eeley. "In my own diocese in York, in the village of Wilberfoss, 50 outdoor pigs drowned when the river came up so fast that the farmer could not move them."

Eeley said the victim in south-east Staffordshire was trying to move her animals to higher ground when she was confronted with "a wall of water".

"The police told her she had to get out and leave them," she said.

Even those who were able to move their animals are facing an uncertain future, she added, because they have been forced to start using their winter feed stores already. "Farmers can be very proud and often don't wish to seek help."

Dr Sentamu added: "We know there is a desire to help out there. In a farm near Driffield in Yorkshire, a farmer was faced with having to move his livestock of 650 sheep and 120 beef cattle to ensure they weren't drowned. He had nowhere to put them. The word went out and he received offers of help from as far away as Scotland."