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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Flood-hit farmers get church aid
Horses on flooded farm
Animals had to be rescued from flooded farms
The Archbishop of York has backed an appeal fund for farmers who lost crops and 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 lost 100% of their crops and a few had even 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."

It takes a long time for properties to dry out before you can actually start remedying and rebuilding
Nick Starling, Association of British Insurers

The floods are thought to have hit 31,200 homes and 7,000 businesses, mainly in the Midlands and north, and the insurance bill is expected to run to 1.5bn.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has said the government will increase flood defence spending from 600m this year to 800m a year in 2010/11.

'Wall of water'

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
Sue Eeley
ARC-Addington Fund

"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."

Ms 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.

Pea blight

Farmers have been unable to harvest crops because their machinery cannot work on flooded ground.

The National Farmers' Union said a third of the pea crop - 50,000 tonnes - had been lost, worth an estimated 10m even before processing.

Wheat is also a worry. The crop will soon be ready to harvest, but is still standing under as much as three feet of water.

Ms Eeley said potatoes too were impossible to harvest from severely waterlogged fields.

The NFU said the true scale of the damage would take some time to assess, but there was some good news.

Dr John Sentamu
Dr John Sentamu said the floods had caused misery for farmers

A spokesman said the rains would have destroyed around 40% of the strawberry crop if polytunnels had not provided vital cover.

'Very proud'

The ARC-Addington fund was set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury and has already received a flood donation from the Prince of Wales.

It will particularly support farmers who did not have insurance.

Ms Eeley said: "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."

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