The Royal Bath and West of England Society have announced the great news that it has helped 47 farmers, by paying out well in excess of £300,000 from the Somerset Farm Recovery Fund.
The recovery fund was launched earlier in the year following a initial generous donation made by a local farming family who were so concerned by the difficulties being experienced by some farmers following the devastating floods.
The Society thanked everyone who has made a contribution to the fund from the first donation made by the farming family referred to above to members of the general public and those who generously donated prizes to raise funds via an online auction. In particular they also thanked Somerset Community Foundation and their Chief Executive John Sargent for all their help with the fund.
John Alvis, chairman of the Somerset Farm Recovery Fund, said: “The generosity of the general public, together with the match funding from the Somerset Community Foundation, has provided much-needed financial support for those struggling to put their lives and businesses back on an even keel. No-one should be in any doubt as to the difference this fund has made.”
Applications for grant aid were invited from farmers whose livelihoods had been affected by the floods and where they had suffered a loss of production and it is great news that the money which was collected has been so speedily and effectively distributed.
As living proof of the effectiveness of the scheme, one recipient wrote, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of people and the support we have been given. The arrival of the cheque has saved our business and for that we are most earnestly grateful.”
However, although the worst may be over, some farmers will still suffer shortages of fodder over the coming winter while in the long term, efforts are still being made to tackle the needs of the levels and moors for the benefit of future generations.
In this context another fund called The Somerset Levels Relief Fund is approaching various organisations and charitable trusts to secure funding for a 20 year action plan drawn up by Somerset County Council in conjunction with other stakeholders and interested parties.
Edwin White, chairman of the Society’s agricultural policy group, said: “The Society has not taken its eye off the ball in securing funding for the long-term future of the levels.
“In the meantime, through the kindness and generosity of so many individuals and organisations, in just over four months we have been able to collect and distribute a large amount of money to where it was needed.”
So all in all this is a good news story and the Royal Bath and West of England Society should be proud of the pivotal role they have played and continue to play in support of our local farming communities on the Levels.
James Stephen MRICS FAAV
Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor, Wells
T: 01749 683381