An appeal has been set up to help struggling Dales farmers who have been hit hard by continuing bad weather.

Farmers across upland areas have been hit hard by dreadful  weather conditions, and many continue to struggle even though much of the snow has finally melted away.

The extended winter followed one of the wettest summers on record – a double whammy that has seen farmers lose up to ten per cent of their stock.

In Upper Teesdale, in the Northern Dales, a Helping Hands scheme has been set up by local charity Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS).

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The lambing season has been hit hard. Picture by Simon Garbutt

It is an area well used to harsh winters – famously portrayed in the Hannah Hauxwell documentaries Too Long a Winter and A Winter too Many – but few farmers have experienced such an extended period of poor weather.

Diane Spark, project manager at UTASS, said, “We are aware of the ongoing difficulties that some of our members are experiencing due to the appalling weather over the last twelve months. For many the impact of the recent heavy snowfall remains, despite the snow almost having gone.

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“Some of our members are telling us they are not managing to get round to the day to day husbandry and maintenance tasks as they are needing to devote so much time to trying to keep their stock alive.

“Many members are reporting heavy losses with some saying it is their worst ever lambing.

“UTASS, with support from The Prince’s Countryside Fund and County Durham Community Foundation, have set up a ‘Helping Hands’ project to help those in need with day to day husbandry and maintenance tasks.

“UTASS is currently seeking more expressions of interest from suitably experienced, self employed individuals who might be prepared to assist on farms as part of the “Helping Hands” project.

“If you, or someone you know, require some temporary help with the day to day husbandry and maintenance tasks – please contact us for more information on 01833 641010 or diane@utass.org

“We thank you for keeping us informed about things we might be able to help with and for supporting one another through this difficult time.”

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