The Prince’s Countryside Fund is launching an urgent appeal to the public to donate funds to help farmers in financial crisis throughout the UK.
The charity has reported an increasing need for financial help from farmers, many of whom have suffered severe losses with the recent heavy snowfall.
Huge losses of lambs and breeding stock, has meant many farmers are unable to afford to dispose of carcasses. It is estimated that 50,000 farm animals have died as a result of last month’s snow.
The charity released its emergency fund of over £500,000 earlier this spring to the farming charities RABI, RSABI, The Addington Fund, Farm Community Network and Rural Support, and is now asking the public to donate what they can to replenish the fund. In response HRH The Prince of Wales has personally agreed to donate £50,000 from his charitable foundation (The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation).
Lord Curry, Trustee of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, explained: “Farmers continue to count the cost of 12 months of terrible weather and the true scale of the crisis is yet to be revealed. The weather has affected all agricultural sectors struggling to cope with the impact of one of the wettest years on record and a late spring.
“Many hill and sheep farmers have suffered terrible lamb yields, as they lost valuable hefted stock and new lambs in the spring blizzards. Worse still, is the Schmallenberg virus, which had some farmers losing up to 80% of their flocks.
“People will look outside to the fresh green fields and think we’re over the worst, but the reality is this will have a long term knock on impact. Many farmers will struggle to find the money to put diesel in their tractors this summer.
“Farming faces an uncertain future, in an uncertain economy. We need to ensure that those who look after the land and rear our food are able to continue to preserve the family farm for generations to come.”
To help support our efforts text PCF to 70300 for a £3 donation or donate online at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk or at the Post Office. Until the end of May 2013 all donations will be given directly to the Farming Help Charities.
How the emergency funding has helped farmers in crisis to date:
R.A.B.I. Chief Executive Paul Burrows said: “PCF emergency funding has helped us to cope with the dramatic increase in the requests for help we have received as a result of the extreme weather farmers have had to cope with in recent months.
“Last year we paid £250,000 more to help farming families in need than we did in 2011. In addition, in January and February this year we gave out £100,000 more in grants and saw the number of calls to our helpline double in comparison with 2012.
“We are extremely grateful to HRH The Prince of Wales for taking a lead in donating money from the PCF’s emergency fund to support our work. The donations have enabled us to make a positive difference to the farming community and set an example we hope others will follow.”
The Farming Community Network (FCN)
Charles Smith, Chief Executive, said: “FCN volunteers in the areas affected by the recent snowfalls have been inundated with calls for support. Coming as it does after a year of unprecedented bad weather, farmers and their families are quite understandably at their wits end. Levels of stress and tiredness have grown to such levels that even the simplest of decisions have, in many cases, become impossible, whilst dealing with growing feed bills and payment demands from suppliers in the face of growing losses in their flocks and herds is beyond contemplation for most.
“FCN volunteers are supporting in many practical ways: helping with paperwork and responding to demands from banks and suppliers, searching for supplies of forage, applying for grants from the Addington Fund and RABI whilst their ability to provide pastoral support is quite literally a lifesaver. The essential funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund keeps our volunteers mobile as they drive many thousands of miles visiting farmers and covers the Helpline costs, ensuring that all callers are dealt with sympathetically and in complete confidence whenever they call.”
Maurice Hankey, Chief Executive R.S.A.B.I, said; “The PCF emergency funding has enabled RSABI to reach out to Scottish farmers for whom the effects of the relentless weather has brought their businesses to the point of crisis. As Scottish farmers are not renowned for coming forward to seek help, we have vigorously promoted the availability of funding and established a “fast-track” system to access the help available.
“Farm visits provide reassurance to those who are visibly suffering on a personal level that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. From a financial viewpoint, RSABI has been able to make sure that household running costs can be met and that additional funding can go towards emergency business costs, where they cannot be met from other sources. I believe that such funding has helped struggling farm businesses to look to the future with a little more confidence.”
Case studies are available from farmer’s who benefitted from the emergency funding. Please contact Jennifer Middleton on 01757 268283 or email
Notes to editors:
The Prince’s Countryside Fund, founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, who has a long-held commitment to supporting Britain’s hard pressed rural areas, was set up by Business in the Community in July 2010. So far it has given over £2.1 million in grants distributed to over 60 projects across the country, directly benefitting nearly 40,000 people. Projects that have been funded range from apprenticeships for budding hill farmers, training for young people to gain employment in the rural economy, community transport schemes in isolated rural areas and projects to educate school children about where their food comes from and why the countryside matters. In addition to its normal application process, the Fund also operates an emergency fund for times of need. All the projects focus on supporting the people who care for our countryside and make it tick.
The public can make a donation online at Virgin Giving at the Post Office or by Text. Text PCF to 70300 and a £3 donation will be made to The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Until the end of May 2013 all donations will be given directly to the Farming Help Charities.
For further media enquiries please contact: Jennifer Middleton on 01757 268283 or email
or Victoria Elms (The Prince’s Countryside Fund) on 0207 566 5559.