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The NFU has developed an online facility so that farmers isolated by foot and mouth restrictions can communicate directly with MPs via the farmers' web-site.

The service, called Political Candidates Online, is available on NFUnet and will enable farmers to see what their local candidates intend to do for rural communities should they win a seat in Parliament.

NFUnet will feature individual contributions from Candidates highlighting their views on agricultural issues and an e-mail address to enable farmers to respond.

NFU President Ben Gill said: "Many Candidates in rural areas will find it nearly impossible to canvass farmers who still face movement restrictions. This facility will enable them to reach a greater proportion of their farming and rural constituents.

"This service will provide an important two-way link between farmers and candidates providing a constantly updated source of information."

Those members without Internet access can contact their regional offices who will be able to provide them with printed details from the site of their local Candidates and what they offer.

NFUnet's membership has increased by 81 per cent in just three months since the start of the foot and mouth crisis to 7900 members. It is being seen as a key tool in updating members with the latest news and as a forum enabling them to communicate with each other and members of staff.

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