3 March 2000

Bishop prays at pig vigil

THE heavens opened as the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev John Oliver, prayed with farmers at the pig vigil on Tuesday.

The rain poured down on Parliament Square as he prayed for the whole farming community and for the government "to show wisdom and generosity in recognising the urgent needs of farmers". He then joined other members of the General Synod and farmers in the Lords Prayer.

The vigil has been going for a month now and shows no signs of flagging.

The bishops backing came the day before the General Synod debated the pastoral impact of the farming crisis. Motions calling on the government to develop a long-term strategy for farming, introduce an early retirement scheme, reduce paperwork and improve food labelling were debated.

Coinciding with the debate, pig farmers descended on Parliament to lobby MPs to discuss the impact of the crisis. The event was hosted by Lib-Dem farm spokesman Colin Breed.