Advice for rural communities during severe weather

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As heavy snow and freezing temperatures sweep the nation, farmers up and down the country are working hard to ensure animals are looked after, deliveries can continue and communities can function as close to normal as possible.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Farmers are pivotal in the rural community, particularly during times of adverse weather, and they will be playing their part to help clear roads, unfreeze water pipes and provide emergency help to those in need, all while caring for their own business and livestock.

“Most businesses suffer during a cold snap and farming is no different. The NFU is supporting its members to ensure that they have the information to remain safe during this time of severe weather.

“Rest assured, farmers and growers will still be working round the clock to ensure they are able to provide the public with a safe, affordable, traceable supply of British food.”

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Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "Farmers across the UK are facing huge difficulties to look after livestock in the worst UK-wide winter weather we have seen for over a decade.

"In the areas which have had heavy snow and temperatures falling below -10c, farmers are facing a massive challenge to get fodder to sheep and cattle which are out in the fields or housed in remote buildings.

"Scotland and the north east of England are currently the worst affected regions with deep snow still falling and drifting in high winds.  Unusually, there has also been very heavy snow in Devon and Cornwall - including low lying areas which rarely see snow.

"Many farmers are doing their bit to help villages and towns cut off by snow by using their tractors to snow plough roads - and as part of our support for the countryside, NFU Mutual is pleased to provide cover free of charge for them to provide this as a community service.

"We're also calling for the public to avoid using rural roads unless it's absolutely necessary."

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Rural driving tips

Whether you’re a native of the countryside or an infrequent visitor, these tips for rural driving should help you stay safe and avoid the hazards.

  • Plan your journey before you set off. Give thought to locations that might be badly affected and monitor local weather forecasts.
  • Leave at least twice as much space as normal between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Don’t make harsh or sharp movements, when you brake and accelerate do it slowly and smoothly.
  • Drive slowly in as high a gear as possible.
  • When ascending a slippery or snowy hill, approach it from a good distance at a steady speed in second or even third gear. Keep it ticking over while continuing as consistently as possible.
  • If you feel your vehicle starting to skid, take your feet off the pedals. Braking will cause the wheels to lock leaving you unable to steer while accelerating could see you shooting off in a random direction if the tyres suddenly grip. Turn gently into the skid and let the car come slowly to a halt.
  • Keep your windscreen, windows and mirrors clean and free of ice and ensure you have a supply of winter-ready screen wash.
  • Keep a torch, blanket, a bottle of water and a chocolate bar or two in the car.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged, and tune into the radio to keep up to date about road conditions.

For more tips on driving in icy conditions visit

Last edited:08 March 2019 at 17:19

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