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Farmers on the Somerset Levels start to receive recovery payments after floods

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 27, 2014

Relief payments are being made to farmers on the Somerset Levels

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The first tranche of payments for Somerset farmers whose livelihoods were devastated by the flooding on the Levels have been sent out.

The news came as a charity auction to boost the coffers of the Somerset Farmers' Fund sees Glastonbury Festival tickets along with luxury Winnebago accommodation at Camp Kerala on target to raise thousands of pounds.

The Somerset Farmers' Fund was set up by the Royal Bath and West Society to help those needing help in the medium to long term. The auction is the last fund-raising initiative to boost funds with bidding on the Society's website for the festival package www.bathandwest.com currently standing at £5,500.

Jane Guise, society chief executive, said: "The first tranche of payments were sent this week to those who have been assessed.

"Many of those who have received funds are in dire need yet feel there are others still worse off than them. We are still receiving applications and following assessment further payments are expected.

"The Somerset Farmers' Fund was initiated by a large donation from a Somerset farming family. It was given in recognition that once the floods had receded, those who farm the levels would have a huge restoration challenge. Notwithstanding the fact their business may not be sufficiently robust to recover without support."

She added: "We as a society had already set up a fund-raising mechanism to bring together money and interests to improve the water management on the levels and were happy to establish a second fund with the specific purpose of farm business support.

"We have been thrilled with the response from the community and the auction will give the appeal a further boost."

The fund is being matched by the Somerset Community Foundation at a rate of 2:1 up to £150,000.

Ms Guise added: "Already the generosity in supporting the fund and the auction has been phenomenal and we hope this will also be reflected in the bids and purchases. Applications are being invited for the Fund and a panel of experts has been appointed to adjudicate payments to those affected – all of which is being done voluntarily and the administration costs are being covered by the foundation."

This money will provide interim support and cashflow until farmers receive Defra payments (for which they must apply) later in the summer.

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