24 August 2001

Donation plea attack

A CHURCH leader has been criticised by a Labour MP after calling on congregations to donate harvest festival collections to Welsh farmers.

Michael Cruchley, Synod Rural Officer for the United Reformed Church, made the plea as the ARC-Addington Fund said it had distributed £2.4m in hardship grants to farmers in Wales. Mr Cruchley, a fund trustee, said the money represented 30% of the total paid out by the charity over the past six months.

But Newport MP Paul Flynn said hearing well-compensated farmers begging for cash would shock people raising money for foot-and-mouth charities. He has challenged farmers to open their books and prove their hardship. Farmers should explain to low income groups why they deserve more help, said Mr Flynn.

"Welsh farming needs a dose of reality of the Lord Haskins type. I have urged the Farmers Union of Wales to campaign for poor farmers, not for all farmers. The answer to rural poverty is redistribution of wealth from rich farmers to poor." &#42