Farming charity RABI is bracing itself for a surge in calls for help, because of the summer heatwave.

Malcolm Thomas, RABI chairman, said: “As things stand, I’d envisage a busy autumn / winter for RABI, with many livestock farmers already forced to feed winter rations to their stock. Having to buy more feed will quickly drive up overheads.

“We’ve not seen weather like this in decades – and it’s worth remembering that it comes hot on the heels of a long cold winter and a particularly wet spring this year, which resulted in floods in many areas.

“Farmers have been constantly forced to reassess and change plans for some time now. Many had to house cattle indoors much longer than usual in March and April, depleting valuable food stocks in the process.”

From July 16-24, RABI received 31 calls / referrals for help. Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, Mr Thomas said: “Those figures are exceptionally high for this time of year and although they are not all weather-related cases, our welfare team is very busy at present. The overwhelming feedback I’m getting from farmers at the Royal Welsh is that the fallout from this heatwave is already extremely serious for our industry, and it’s likely to get worse. A lot of people are affected and deeply concerned.

“We usually find there’s a time lag between someone suffering hardship and contacting us for help, so we expect to receive even more calls in the coming weeks and months.

“Drought-related issues will last long after the rains have come. A lot of farmers will be playing catch-up through the autumn and beyond.”

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has been around since 1860 and is farming’s oldest and largest welfare charity. Last year, RABI gave out grants of close to £2 million to people of all ages in financial need. During difficult times RABI can help in various ways, such as contributing towards domestic bills or providing emergency grants. Support is tailored to suit individual need.

“Reacting to what the elements throw at you is part of a farmer’s life and most in the sector accept that,” added Mr Thomas.

“However, extreme weather, like we’ve seen recently, creates extreme challenges that make it impossible to plan for anything. There’s already tremendous uncertainty about the future of our industry due to Brexit and the implications a possible ‘no deal’ outcome would have on livelihoods.

“Whatever lies ahead, however, RABI remains in a strong position to support those in financial need in the farming industry.”

Find out what RABI can do for you by calling the Freephone Helpline 0808 281 9490.