17 May 2002

Learn facts Welsh MP told

A CARMARTHENSHIRE farmer has challenged Welsh MP Paul Flynn to visit his farm to get the facts about an industry he continuously criticises.

Nick Somerfield, chairman of the Farmers Union of Waless land use and parliamentary committee, described an early day motion laid by the Newport, Gwent, MP on May 9 as "an appalling distortion of the state of farming".

The motion called on parliament to note increased land values, an 11% rise in farm incomes in 2001, a forecast 120% rise in dairy farm incomes in 2002, and the tiny number of farm bankruptcies.

It claimed that handouts totalling a record £5bn were paid to farmers, that this was an unsustainable farm tax on manufacturing and other industries, and urged the farm lobby to abandon terminal pessimism and recognise reality.

A furious Mr Somerfield said incomes were rising to still unsatisfactory levels from low bases, and farmers were staving off bankruptcy by using up meagre reserves.

"I challenge Mr Flynn to debate his distorted views on farming with me and my neighbours."

John Menon, who farms at Crai, Brecon, said nobody should be surprised by the appalling comments of a serial farming basher.

"I wonder if Mr Flynn is seeking to further his parliamentary career by drawing attention to himself," said Dr Menon.

Once again Mr Flynn had demonstrated that it was he who did not recognise reality, just as he did with his shocking claim in a radio interview that the high rate of farmer suicides was linked to access to shotguns, he said. &#42