Brandon creates fund for farmers

Published January 1, 2000

Torrential rains left this farmer’s field in southern Manitoba unseeded in 1999.

With the farm crisis on the Prairies far from abated, the Diocese of Brandon is pushing ahead with plans to help farmers cope.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund has donated $3,000 assistance, which has been presented to the Westman Interfaith, Counselling and Education Centre in Brandon, Bishop Malcolm Harding said. The centre will provide counselling services to farm families and individuals in crisis.

The combination of torrential spring rains, low commodity prices and an end to subsidy programs left many farmers in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan in dire straits. Those farmers who managed to plant a late crop struggled with weeds as high as people, continued wetness and deer and geese eating their yet to be harvested grain, according to reports from the Winnipeg Free Press.

Bishop Harding said the diocese has established an Agricultural Crisis Reserve Fund to provide emergency individual assistance to people with immediate needs. A couple of calls from farmers unable to pay their bills prompted him to set up the fund.

The bishop prepared a pastoral letter to parishes in the diocese encouraging continued lobbying of the federal government for immediate assistance to farmers; informing them of the newly established reserve fund; and asking for continual prayer for the alleviation of the economic crisis “and a solid expression of Christian love and understanding for many farming families who find themselves in a disastrous situation beyond their control.”

Bishop Harding also appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in early December.

He said, “We’re doing all we can, politically, prayerfully and pastorally.”

Donations to the diocese’s reserve fund can be mailed to: Agricultural Crisis Reserve Fund, Diocese of Brandon, Box 21009, WEPO, Brandon, Man., R7B 3W8.


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