Dr John Sentamu, the Anglican Archbishop of York, has launched an appeal fund for farmers hit by recent floods in England - following his high profile visits to some of the communities involved.
The ARC-Addington Fund, which was originally launched in 2001 to help those farmers affected by the foot and mouth crisis, is specifically aimed at farmers facing hardship as a result of having their crops or livestock ruined by the floods.
Dr Sentamu asked those gathered at the recent Church of England General Synod in York to make a donation to the fund to help farmers whose crops and livestock have been wiped out. The fund has already received a donation from HRH the Prince of Wales.
The Archbishop was joined by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, who chairs the Church of England's Panel of Rural Bishops, and will attend the opening day of the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate and speak to farmers at the show to inform them of the availability of the fund.
Dr Sentamu said: "The hardship fund aims to give small amounts that other people are not able to give, but that are eally needed to sustain the farm business. The full personal and financial impact of the floods will not be known for some time."
"However the immediate impact of the floods has already caused significant misery for many farmers", he added. "There are already examples of 600 sheep drowned in one far min south-east Staffordshire, 350 on another in Tamworth."
The archbishop continued: "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."
He said: "Both big and small farmholders have been affected. In Herefordshire one farmer has lost his potato crop which covered 125 acres. In Shropshire a small holding farmer lost two-thirds of his potato crop over 30 acres."
Dr Sentamu, who was moved by the plight of those he met after the floods, explained: "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!"
The ARC-Addington Fund will provide a package of pastoral support and hardship payments to any farmers who have been adversely affected by the recent floods. Working with Farming Help Partners, Farm Crisis Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, the ARC-Addington Fund will offer small hardship payments to farmers on a case by case basis.
The fund is particularly keen to support farmers who were not able to insure their crops and livestock. These cannot be general compensation payments but if people are insured and are still in genuine hardship, then they should apply.
Farmers can call the Farming Help Partnership on 07002 326 326 and will be put directly in contact with a volunteer from Farm Crisis Network who will visit them, talk through the application and help them complete the form.
This will then be submitted to the ARC-Addington Fund, the adjudication panel will meet regularly and aim to turn around the application within five working days. None of the donations will be used for administration, all administration costs are covered by other means.
The ARC-Addington Fund was set up by the Arthur Rank Centre [the churches rural resources centre in Warwickshire] in 2001 during the foot and mouth epidemic, which distributed £10.3 million to farmers in 15 months.
The Fund continues its work by providing strategic housing support for those who loose their homes when their rural business ends and this will continue beyond the current extreme circumstances.