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The NFU has been given so many generous offers of money to help farmers struggling with foot and mouth that it has set up a fund to make sure it gets to those who need it.

The Supporting Farmers in Crisis fund will administer and distribute the offers of help that run to several million pounds.

It aims to channel the huge level of public and commercial donations being offered to the NFU to help farmers through the crisis now but also in the future once foot and mouth has been eradicated.

The money will be held in trust and administered by a small committee of representatives from the NFU, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) and other senior figures from business and agriculture.

An example of some of the offers of help is the Institute of Grocery Distribution industry fund set up to assist farmers in rebuilding their businesses and regain competitiveness in the marketplace. This initiative, announced earlier this week, will be channelled through the NFU fund.

NFU President Ben Gill: "We have taken this step as a result of the many requests from individual donors and commercial companies for advice from the NFU on how best to help farmers in both the short and longer term.

"So many people have been so keen to help in such a small period of time that it has been quite amazing to us.

"We are extremely grateful for all the offers of help such as that from the IGD industry fund which has received donations from the supermarkets.

"We felt it was vital that we set up a dedicated team to make sure that these kind offers will find the best home."

The "trustees" will not only direct funds to the existing crisis charitiessuch as RABI and the Rural Stress Information Network, but will also look at marketing, promotion and business support initiatives to help restore the market income to the farming industry.

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