FARMERS from Malmesbury and Cirencester have been responding to the Somerset Levels flooding crisis by hauling loads of urgently needed fodder for livestock.

Miles of grazing land have been under several feet of water for weeks in the worst recorded floods in a century.

Malmesbury Young Farmers chairman James Hutchinson said the club was part of a Wiltshire-wide co-ordinated effort mobilised when the plea for fodder was made.

But he was talking with the livestock market at Sedgemoor - which is acting as a depot - and members were also standing by to take more supplies down when needed.

He told the Standard he had been surprised at the strength of the response. “But as a farming community you’re always there looking to help your neighbours in need or when something like this happens.

“What we’re thinking we would like to do is when the waters do go down, to get together some car loads of members and go down to help with the clean up operation.”

Chris Gardner, who used to live in Crudwell and worked on a farm at Rodbourne, spent 11 hours at the wheel of his tractor hauling fodder down from Warwick at an average speed of 29mph.

Part of a national group called Club Hectare, he set off from his home at 7am on a 300-mile round trip.

And he’s prepared to do it again. “This is going to be months, quite frankly, having seen what’s down there and knowing what damage will have been done to the ground. They are going to need help for a very long time.”

The Charlton Park estate and neighbouring farmer James Hazell also took a lorry load of hay last week.

Students from the Royal Agricultural University have been working with Forage Aid founder Andrew Ward.

Tom Warren, who is studying agricultural management, said: “I’ve been ringing round lots of companies and asking them for straw, silage, and most importantly haulage to cover it all. It’s about supporting the farming community, and pulling together to provide aid to those who need it most.

“The most important thing is to keep the aid going. It’s vital now,” he said. “But it’s also important to remember that it needs to continue for the weeks, and months, ahead.”

Lecturer Chris Brough praised the students for using social media to mobilise a huge network of friends and families.

More information for farmers who want to help is available via email or by calling 01392 440700.