Two men praised for their role in aiding snow-hit farmers in Wales
NewsFriday 26 July 2013
Two of the farmers who have raised awareness of the issues surrounding the snow-hit hill farmers have recently been praised at the Royal Welsh Show.
Andrew Ward, the Lincolnshire farmer who founded Fodder Aid, was thanked by the Farmers’ Union of Wales for launching a system of emergency hay supplies.
Gareth Wyn Jones, another farmer, from Conway, was also honoured by the Union for his alerts via social media.
Their actions followed the heavy snow in March during the lambing season which killed hundreds of sheep in upland areas.
Mr Jones, Tynllwyfan, Llanfairfechan, appeared on the TV news coverage of the crisis regularly and he then prompted Mr Ward to launch Fodder Aid.
Mr Ward ended up persuading farming industry suppliers to fund the haulage of hundreds of bales of hay donated by farmers.
According to Mr Ward, last year’s wet summer had led to a shortage of fodder this spring. He also mentioned that when the snow fell the grass didn’t grow, which meant farmers were restricted to keeping their animals inside.
He began his project in April and it will end shortly, with one of the last consignments of hay to be delivered to a Brecon farm on Wednesday.
Mr Ward was inspired to set up Fodder Aid after he saw all of the issues that were facing these farmers on the television.
Huge snow drifts of 15ft (4.57m) in north Wales ended up leaving hundreds of sheep buried in March and April.
Mr Ward has an 1,800-acre arable farm in Leadenham, near Lincoln, and he began his process by donating his own hay, however, he soon realised that it wasn’t enough.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "I sent 50 of my own bales to a farm in Cumbria and it cost up to £1,500 but I soon realised the extent of the problem and I needed more help.
"Using Twitter - I'm called Wheat Daddy - and the Farmers' Weekly I appealed for help and soon I was receiving messages from farmers around England - Kent, Essex, Devon, Norfolk, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Yorkshire - and they all wanted to donate hay.
"My next problem was getting it to the farmers in Wales, the north of England, Shropshire and Scotland so I asked companies supplying the farming sector to fund the haulage and they agreed.
"I was touched by the loss farmers were facing in Wales and we sent about 35 lorry loads of hay to places like Corwen, Abergele and Brecon."
Mr Ward said he had been overwhelmed by the response from the farmers he helped.
"Some farmers have phoned me in tears saying that I've saved them, their families and business from ruin and their livestock," he added.
The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) thanked Mr Ward for his help during a reception at the Royal Welsh Show on Wednesday.
Speaking on Thursday, FUW president Emyr Jones said: "Mr Ward was a good Samaritan in a time of need and and we are extremely grateful to him for what he has done.
"His generosity is something that isn't that common these days and it surprised us. Perhaps in the future we can pay him back.
"It just goes to show that the industry will band together when the going gets tough."
Picture: Rich Jones