FARMERS in the Malvern and Ledbury area have given a mixed reaction to the Government's announcement that it is to give £24 million to the Business Recovery Fund in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis.

Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for DEFRA, announced the funding to help tourism and the rural recovery, but it will not go to farm businesses and will mostly benefit hard-hit Cumbria.

Archie Smith-Maxwell, a sheep and cattle farmer from Upton, believes farms with animals that had not caught the disease were suffering now.

"What no one understands is that the farmers who got the disease at least have money in the bank. The people who have been on standstill have not been able to sell anything since February, it's appalling."

He suggested the government concentrate on the export market to help recovery.

Chris Teale, who farms cattle near Upton, said: "We are supposed to understand they're doing all they can, but it's a right shambles. Anything financial would help, the holiday people have financially suffered, but at least they still have their assets."

Roger Cousins had his pig farm in Welland closed for four weeks in March, although none of his stock actually had the disease. He said: "I don't suppose we'll see much of it. It's a good thing I suppose, those folks up there have had it far worse than we did."

Bakewell Phillips, who farms sheep and cattle near Ledbury, suggested the Government look for funds further afield.

"I have no objection, the tourist industry has been hit hard," he said, "But at the same time, the farming community needs some help. There's a lot of EC money that could be claimed by the Government. It should be paid to the farming community. We're losing out."