7 June 2001
Penrith free-PC scheme to spread

By FWi staff

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

More than 90 farmers have received a reconditioned computer complete with modem to give them internet access since the scheme started in April.

The Pentalk Network plans to extend the scheme so farmers affected by foot-and-mouth around Carlisle, Brampton and Longtown can also apply.

Network founder Michael Baty, president of Cumbrias Country Land and Business Association, said the scheme was helping farmers communicate.

“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.”

After six months, farmers are 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 other farmers who have lost their stock to benefit, he said.

A Pentalk Network website is under development. Scheme organisers can be contacted on 01768 840500.

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