12 April 2002

£6m aid needed in wake of F&M: RABI

By Mike Stones

DONATIONS topping £6m will be needed to help farmers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland survive the legacy of foot-and-mouth, warns the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

"New applications for help are running at 40 a month compared with 40 an hour at the beginning of the crisis, but RABI estimates that it will still need another £6.2m this year," said the organisations president, Lord Plumb.

More than £9.1m had already been distributed to 1600 farmers and their families, he told visitors to RABIs Countrylight event, held at Fritwell, Oxfordshire last week.

"Farming is a family business and the amount collected reflects the generosity of farming families helping other farming families," said Lord Plumb. He also acknowledged the contribution of business donations and government match funding.

About 500 farmers and their families from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire attended the event planned as a precursor to the Golden Jubilee beacons to be lit across the country on June 3.

A lamp was lit by from the Millennium Flame by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Hugo Brunner. Described as a symbol of hope for the future, the lamp will be kept in the county for the rest of the Jubilee Year.

Speaking on behalf of the Princess Royal, who was prevented from attending the event by the death of the Queen Mother, Mr Brunner said: "Her Royal Highness fully supports the Countrylight event and the message of hope it gives to farmers and all those who live in rural areas."

Organiser of the Jubilee beacon event in June, Bruno Peek, said the celebration offered farmers a unique opportunity. "The beacon event allows farmers to come together as a family and to be part of the bigger family of the UK," said Mr Peek.

Lord Plumb repeated his appeal (Letters, Apr 5) for farmers to support the initiative: "The aim is for farming to make a significant contribution to the national effort by providing a large number of the beacons that are lit on that historic day."

lFor more information about how to take part phone RABI (01865-724931) before the end of April. &#42

&#8226 Founded in 1860.

&#8226 Only charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland dedicated to helping farmers.

&#8226 1600 beneficiaries get regular financial help.

&#8226 Paid more than £9m to over 8000 farmers and their families distressed by F&M.

&#8226 Will need a further £6m in donations this year.