7 Nov 2019

JCB are backing a leading agricultural charity to support farms affected by flooding

A leading agricultural charity has been backed by JCB by providing practical support for family farms affected by flooding in the Yorkshire Dales.

In the weeks since the early August flash floods swept away sheep and silage bales, damaged fences, stone walls and buildings, and deposited boulders in fields, Forage Aid has been co-ordinating donations of straw and silage ready for shipments to begin from the end of October.

But while making preparations to collect, transport and distribute the many donations offered, the charity’s trustees felt the farming families worst affected by the event needed help in clearing up the aftermath of the floods.

Unlike previous exceptional weather events, such as the heavy snowfall across Wales and north-west England in January 2013 and the Somerset Levels flooding later the same year, this time there was no immediate need for replacement straw and forage because livestock were still outsite grazing. But when we visited affected farms, we found piles of storage bales contaminated with sewage from a burst pipe at the sewage works and domestic heating oil spilled from tanks pulled from there positions when the river burst its banks and flooded Reeth. We recognised that these heaps of stinking bales in field corners and farmyards were a very unpleasant reminder of the shocking event and farmers just didn't know what to do with them.

Andrew Ward | Forage Aid Chairman and Trustee

In typical Forage Aid fashion, a practical solution was found – the damaged bales would be collected and transported to a farm-based anaerobic digestion plant in Cumbria to contribute to the electricity generated there.

JCB readily supported the initiative by donating the use of two Fastrac 4220 tractors and a new-generation Loadall 542-70 AGRI Super telescopic handler for more than a fortnight.

Andrew Ward said: “We did a trial run with a lorry but tight access to the small Dales farms meant tractors and trailers were a more practical solution. The Fastrac’s 60kph legal road speed over the 60-mile round trip meant each one could manage two loads a day – the same as the lorry but carrying more on each run.”

Bailey Trailers pitched in with the loan of two 20 tonne capacity root crop trailers, and 3,000-litres of diesel for the clean-up operation was paid for by Woldmarsh, the national farmers buying group, and domestic and commercial fuel supplier Certas Energy.

Andrew Ward said: “JCB has been one of our biggest supporters since we became a registered charity in 2015 and I can’t thank them and our other partners and supporters enough for the way they responded to this initiative. Each of these extreme weather events brings something different – and for me, seeing the damage and the sight of dead sheep washed into the lower branches of trees brought home how distressing it must have been for the farming families that were worst affected.”

John Smith, JCB Agriculture Managing Director, said: “We are a supporter and partner of Forage Aid because we admire the practical help that this farmers-helping-farmers organisation provides, and were delighted to be able to do our bit with the loan of a Loadall telehandler and Fastrac tractors to help get this particular initiative completed as efficiently as possible.”

Andrew Ward added: “I know Forage Aid’s help with cleaning-up the aftermath has been a comfort to the farming families affected – now, with the help of hauliers donating free transport and our logistics planning partner Branston Produce, we move on to the challenge of collecting and distributing the many tonnes of forage and straw donated by fellow farmers.”

Cash donations to support Forage Aid’s charitable work can made at www.justgiving.com/forage-aid or visit www.forageaid.org.uk to offer free straw, forage, haulage or other assistance or to make a request for help.

Pictured left to right are Forage Aid Chairman and Trustee Andrew Ward, JCB Fastrac Sales Engineer Sam Ullyott and farmer Michael Atkinson, of Reeth,  with the JCB 542-70 AGRI Super Loadall and one of the Fastrac 4220 tractors  loaned to help the clear-up in Yorkshire.

For further information contact: Nigel Chell, JCB Press Office Tel: 01889 593592 E-mail: nigel.chell@jcb.com