Significant Increase In Calls To Rural Support Helpline

Rural Support has reported a significant increase in calls it has received from farmers with serious debt and financial concerns.

The farming support body has revealed the number of calls to its helpline has increased by 20% since this time last year.

Over half the calls Rural Support received this year were from farmers experiencing debt problems and concerned about the financial future and viability of their farms.

This increase reflects the current difficulties and plummeting prices currently being experienced by most sectors of the farming industry.

The figures have been released at a time when many dairy farmers have taken to the streets to highlight their plight.

Dairy producers are currently receiving around 19p a litre for milk, a staggering 8p below the cost of production.

Rural Support has warned they expect a further upsurge in calls given there is little prospect of improving prices on the horizon.

Jude McCann, chief executive of Rural Support said the increase in calls was reflective of the current pressures and stresses which farmers and farm families are experiencing at this time.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact of the current situation on farmers’ health and wellbeing and we want to remind farmers that Rural Support finance mentors and volunteers are available to listen, discuss options and provide confidential support on any issues that you may be facing,” he said.

“It is a very challenging and stressful time for farmers and their families. With global and economic factors, outside of the control of farmers and prolonged low prices, it is a very frustrating time and with little sign of improvement many farmers are worried about their future.

“Some farmers are increasingly worried about the prospect of losing their farm as it is something that has been built up over many years and usually handed down through generations.

“The farm is not only their livelihood but also their home, it is very difficult to just walk away.”

Working long hours with the added pressures of increasing levels of debt, increasing paperwork, animal health issues and being dependent on factors outside of their control can often lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety among farmers.

Rural Support, backed by a number of organisations including DARD, has for the past 13 years being offering a listening, guiding and connecting service for farmers and their families.

It’s a confidential service with a network of volunteers who offer a listening ear as well as face-to-face meetings.

Given the current difficulties, Rural Support is encouraging farm family members to contact them with their concerns before a problem becomes a crisis that impacts on health and relationships in the family.

They stress the first step is to ask for help.

Among its many services Rural Support offers free, confidential financial mentoring.

The Rural Support helpline 08456067607 is open seven days a week from 8am to 11pm. Voicemail and support options available at all other times.