22 March 2000
Suicide remark angers Welsh farmers
By FWi staff
FARMERS have reacted with anger to a Labour MP who refuses to believe that farm suicides have increased because of the crisis in agriculture.
Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said figures show that the suicide rate among farmers today is lower than when incomes were at a peak.
“There have been fewer suicides in the last three years of crisis than there were when farming incomes were among the highest in Europe,” he said.
Welsh farmers said they were appalled and outraged by the remarks. The comments showed that Mr Flynn knew nothing about rural communities.
Evan Wilson, senior policy adviser for the National Farmers Union Cymru-Wales, said Mr Flynn should “get out of his cosy office and into the real world”.
Mr Wilson added: “He should try talking to real rural people, some of whom are so desperate they are even now considering putting a shotgun to their heads.”
Alan Morris, spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales said that it was sad Mr Flynn was not prepared to accepts facts.
Mr Morris has been involved in lengthy and vitriolic correspondence with the MP over his previous comments on suicide statistics and the state of agriculture,
A survey by staff at FUW county offices indicated 12 Welsh farmers had committed suicide in 1999, or twice as many as the year before.
Many farmers were staring bankruptcy in the face and Mr Flynn should be trying to help them, added Mr Morris.