Farm leaders demand emergency aid

19 October 2001

Farm leaders demand emergency aid

By Alistair Driver

FARM leaders called for emergency aid for agriculture after the government awarded another 24 million to non-farming rural businesses.

The National Farmers Union said producers will need help in the dark days ahead if the government is serious about helping the rural economy re-build.

Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett has announced that 24m will be made available through the Business Recovery Fund.

The money, on top of 50m already allocated to the fund, will help tourism and other rural businesses. But applications from farmers will be rejected.

NFU deputy president Tim Bennett estimated that losses to Britains farming industry from the foot-and-mouth crisis had topped 1bn.

The government did not appear to have recognised the central role of agriculture to rural communities, he said.

“It ignores the need for direct help to this sector at its peril.

“The government must recognise that it will be essential to provide adequate funding to support those who are unable to sell their animals.”

The Country Land and Business Association said 24m was not enough and failed to reflect the gravity of the situation facing rural businesses.

The association, which has previously called for a 300m foot-and-mouth recovery package, has vowed to continue lobbying for more money.

“A lot of rural businesses face a long and difficult months ahead and need help to survive, said a CLA spokeswoman.

“The award is not enough and we will be pressurising the government for more help over the winter.”

The association was angry that the government did not even match the 40m recommended by Lord Haskins in his report on rural recovery.

Fewer than 3000 businesses would receive the assistance they needed.

The association claims that 12,000 businesses have been unable to pay their rates since the start of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.


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