26 June 1998

Bishop rallies his flock

BISHOP of Bath and Wells Jim Thompson used a special Hope for the Countryside service at Wells Cathedral last Sunday to rally the farmers in his diocese to fight back against economic disaster.

"Many industries have had to face bewildering changes from international pressures and market forces. Many respond by becoming bigger.

"Some people see vast farms owned by corporate bodies, often by remote control, to compete with the prairies. But they often bring motives which pay little attention to our sort of rural communities and can ride roughshod over local and ecological concerns.

"I believe Somerset would be unthinkable if the family farm were to be swallowed up by agri-business," he said.

The bishop said the battle to save the future of farms was not a fight between rural and urban interests but a partnership.

Low milk prices forced Lloyd and Diana Alban (inset) to diversify.