8 June 2001

Computers for farmers extension

A SCHEME set up to provide free computers to farmers has proved so successful in the Penrith area it is to be extended to other parts of Cumbria.

The Pentalk Network plans to extend its reach so farmers who have been affected by the foot-and-mouth epidemic around Carlisle, Brampton and Longtown can also apply.

Michael Baty, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in Cumbria and one of the founders in the Network, said the idea of getting computers to farmers was to allow them to communicate more easily.

"Many producers are not leaving their farms, so they are feeling totally isolated at the moment," he said. "The information they get from MAFF is very limited and providing computers is a way around both problems."

Since the scheme started in April, over 90 farmers have received a reconditioned computer complete with modem to give them internet access.

At the end of a six-month period they will be asked whether they want to hand the computer back, continue with it on a lease or purchase it outright for about £200.

Mr Baty said the network had received over 200 inquiries and aimed to get computers to people within two weeks of a request. It had been so well received in the Penrith area he wanted others farmers who have lost their stock to benefit, he said.

Farmers wanting further details should contact the Pentalk Network (01768-840500). &#42